Lisa Cheban | 21 July, 2023 12:19 | Last update on: 21 July, 2023 12:19
Following the recent news of new shirt sponsorship deals between three English Premier League clubs and betting companies, a campaign group has pleaded with the UK government to “step in.” The past week has seen top-flight teams, including Fulham and Burnley, sign one-year contracts with SBOTOP and W88, respectively. Aston Villa also has a three-year contract with BK8.
Surprisingly, the Premier League clubs signed these deals amid a “unanimous” decision in April to terminate gambling sponsorships on matchday shirts. This groundbreaking agreement aims to eradicate betting sponsorships on EPL team shirts by the end of the 2025/26 season.
While announcing the agreement, the Premier League said this outcome is a huge step, although it’s imperfect. The association agrees it will go a long way in reducing the harms caused by gambling sponsorships. But before the new regulation takes effect, football teams may wear the logos of betting companies.
According to numerous reports circulating in the UK, Chelsea is in the final stages of inking a one-year contract with Stake, another leading betting firm in the country. The Telegraph says that the deal with the Blues might be worth £40 million, proving to be another divisive deal.
A statement released by Big Step, an organization calling for banning gambling ads in the UK’s top-flight football, termed the deals “short-sighted.” The statement added:
“Football can’t be trusted on gambling and the government must now step in to end these deals. Clubs talk about mental health while desperately accepting cheques from online casinos to promote gambling – forcing their own young players and fans to be walking billboards for products that cause addiction and suicide.”
In a quick response, the Premier League told BBC Sport that it is the first sports league in the country to take voluntary steps to reduce gambling adverts. The body added that all betting partners of clubs in the league are already subject to regulation and licensing by the UK Gambling Commission, abiding by the standards of the Advertising Standards Authority.
W88 has initially sponsored Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, and Fulham. On their part, SBOTOP has a long-standing business relationship with Leeds. Last season, Burnley was sponsored by Classic Football Shirts, whereas Aston Villa was sponsored by, Cazoo, an auto sales company.
Burnley has defended their decision to sign a partnership deal with W88, claiming the money they will receive from their record sponsorship contract with W88 would help the team “compete in the Premier League.” Fulham has echoed these claims, stating the funds will help the club stay competitive.
Following Aston Villa’s announcement of a sponsorship agreement with BK8, the Supporters’ Trust of the Midland’s club expressed their disappointment at the decision. It’s to be remembered that Norwich cancelled a sponsorship agreement with the betting company in 2021 due to its controversial marketing tactics.
Last season, up to eight Premier League teams had betting firms on their matchday shirts, with deals estimated to be worth £60 million annually. After 2026, teams will continue to promote British online casinos on their shirt sleeves and LED adverts.