English football club Manchester United has a fortuitous force of support backing team and the latest to have been concluded is with sports betting platform Yabo Sports. Now an official sponsorship partner of the English Premier League club, Yabo Sports also sponsors Hertha Berlin and AS Monaco.
Manchester United is supported by a total of 23 sponsorship partners, including sportswear giant Adidas. The 10-year deal with the sportswear manufacturer is valued at a cool $904 million. Then there’s also a similar sponsorship deal with motor vehicle manufacturer Chevrolet, which is valued at $603 million. Other high-profile sponsorship deals benefiting the team include Konami, Tag Heuer, DHL and Aon, to name but some of the more prominent brand names.
Controversial By Nature
Despite the fact that gambling company sponsorships are nothing new in the world of English Premier League football, these types of sponsorships remain highly controversial. A total of nine of the 20 EPL teams currently enjoy the support of gambling and betting operators. This is a major cause for concern to anti-gambling activists who remain very concerned about the infiltration of gambling into pro-football and sports in general.
The fear is that associations between major football leagues and gambling operators will make light of a variety of gambling-related social issues and that young people are impressionable to the point of bringing total disaster upon themselves and their households because of the potential for gambling-related issues developing.
Seeing a gambling operator’s logo on the shirt of one’s favourite club is to a young person a “permission” of sorts to head into the world of sports betting with not too much in terms of responsible consideration of the pitfalls taking place at any point during the process.
The Danger Is Normalisation
Gambling-related sponsorship deals “normalise” gambling to the point of people viewing the pastime as completely harmless. The sponsorships are marked by pro-gambling messages being preached and propagated and responsible gambling warnings are generally reduced to a type of after-thought and seen as a damper on the excitement as and such not prioritised to the extent that is actually called for by responsible gambling and betting practices.
Gambling Watch UK’s Jim Orford is particularly concerned about the issue of “normalisation”. Orford is convinced that gambling is more increasingly than ever before viewed by especially younger supporters as “part and parcel” of supporting one’s favourite team. Herein then lies the danger, according to Orford, in that that younger supporters have not yet developed the clarity of mind to think critically about all the elements of what they support. Developing an addiction to gambling is generally the last thing to cross anyone’s mind when thinking fandom and supporting one’s team.
Better Safeguards Needed
This doesn’t at all mean that gambling sponsorships are essentially dangerous; only that more information about the possible harms needs to be every bit as visible as any other stats during gameplay. This will in all likelihood be considered as putting a negative spin on proceedings and its unlikely that the “beware” gospel will ever be preached live or in-game.
It’s this realisation that has Orford and others in similar public protection positions up in arms about the supposed ignorance displayed by major football leagues and other pro-sports teams. Money and sponsorships are what make it all possible but, say the social activists, the key to a healthy approach will always be finding the perfect balance. However, that balance is yet to make its way into pro-football sponsorships.