As pressure increases to ban betting sponsors, we look at the consequences of removing these types of sponsors from the game
For a number of years now gambling adverts and sports have gone hand-in-hand with many top clubs donning betting companies as their main kit sponsors.
Before gambling adverts, it was the tobacco industry that took over a number of sports, specifically F1, as cars used to have tobacco companies such as Marlboro plastered all over the vehicles and protective gear.
However, tobacco companies fell victim to a blanket ban and resulted in several teams losing valuable sponsorship money. The same might happen to football.
The only noticeable difference is that the smaller leagues are also benefitting from these types of sponsorships and introducing a blanket ban would be detrimental to their existence. Taking away this revenue income could result in many of these smaller clubs to fall into administration.
When we look at the UK Premier League, eight out of the 20 top teams sport these betting firms on their kits. These clubs are Burnley, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds, Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham and Wolves. Not such a big amount of clubs considering, right?
However, in a lower tier things become even more serious. In "The Championship" - 16 out of 24 teams were sponsored by gambling companies in 2020. Its quite simple, the world renowned clubs acquire partnerships from other huge companies while also attaining massive amounts of kit money from the likes of Puma, Nike or Adidas. This money from Puma, Nike or Adidas is no small amount as Adidas had recently agreed a reported $391 million deal to produce Arsenal's kits.
A total ban
It is no secret that the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is considering the possibility of imposing a blanket ban on gambling kit sponsorships. The focus on this ban is due to the rising concern of gambling addiction and the potential influence it may have on youths.
Maltese lawyer and director of Clean Up Gambling, Matt Zarb-Cousin, and an ardent supporter of this ban said:
“Footballers, darts players, snooker players and rugby players are like walking billboards for gambling companies. The evidence shows this sort of advertising is impacting negatively children who are growing up thinking you have to put on a bet to enjoy sport.”
Clean Up Gambling also conducted a survey which showed that 51% back the banning of all advertising, sponsorship and promotion for gambling firms while only 21% disagreed.
With these results and the backing from the UK government, its likely that a blanket ban will be introduced sooner rather than later.
The financial implications
Previously, the English Football League has hit out at the potential blanket ban due to gambling firms acting as a major source of income. Gambling sponsorships in the EFL account for more than £40 million each season to the organisation and its football clubs. Currently, clubs need this money, more than ever, due to the implications experienced by COVID-19, which dried up gate revenue.
The EFL said:
"With over £40 million a season paid by the sector to the League and its Clubs, the significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been, particularly given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which is leaving many of our Clubs living on a financial knife edge."
When combining both leagues, Premier League and the Championship, clubs will lose a total of £110million annually from just sponsorships, which include pitch side boarding's, kit sponsors and partnerships.
Preventing these funds to smaller clubs might well mean the beginning of the end of lower league football as we know it.
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