Discussing gambling firms which sponsor football clubs is never easy. At the end of the day, it will always be a debate of money and morals – is the money these companies put in football responsibly used? Should gambling be more carefully regulated and discouraged, so that no more problem gamblers are created in the UK?
Or is it just a big fuss over nothing, and the entire industry will evolve regardless of who’s name is on a footballer’s shirt. One thing is clear: online sports betting is growing in the UK year by year, and is gaining more and more traction among football clubs. And there’s little we can do to stop it.
When Bookmakers Started To Sponsor English Teams?
But first, we should look at some pieces of history and how we got here. In the 2018-2019 season of the Premier League, which has just started, 9 out of the 20 teams play with a gambling company’s name on their shirts. The same number as last year, although not the same teams. Two seasons ago, in 2016-2017, we had the record in this area: 10 out of the 20 clubs, 50%, were sponsored by gambling companies.
This trend has started all the way back in 2003-2004, when Fulham were the first football club in the Premier League to play with a betting website on their shirts: BetFair. If we go down just one league, to the Championship, we’ll see numbers grow even more. Over 50% of clubs are sponsored by gambling firms, and one particular company, 32Red, has signed 5 different clubs.
What Kind Of Impact These Sponsorship Deals Can Have?
The question is which part of this process do we want to feed? The part where these betting sites bring some much-needed money into the industry? After all, with their help, the Premier League can maintain its role as market leader in terms of salaries, transfer fees, etc. They surely help the teams with their financial powers, and they’re especially useful in the lower leagues, where big-name sponsors might be harder to attract.
The other part of the debate is regarding the negative impacts of gambling – while it is a recognized phenomenon and problem-gamblers are identified and treated correctly, there are voices which call for less gambling publicity over all mediums: online, on television, and on football kits.
The debate will surely go on in the future, but we’re not here to settle it. We’re here to look into the Premier League clubs which are sponsored by gambling sites this season, and try to understand the deals a bit. Why were these teams chosen over others?
Did the sponsorship really change the club’s future? And what can we expect over the next seasons from this trend? To start answering these questions, we want to first highlight some facts about the clubs which are sponsored by gambling companies:
Who Sponsor The Biggest Premier League Clubs?
– None of them are top-6 clubs. The biggest 6 clubs in the Premier League have all chosen different sponsors, and some of them have had deals going on for quite some time. Manchester City and Arsenal have chosen Airline companies, Etihad and Emirates.
Manchester United and Chelsea are sponsored by two companies which have ties in the Automotive industry, Chevrolet and Yokohama Tires. The remaining two, Liverpool and Tottenham, belong to the services industry: Standard & Chartered (Financial Services) and AIA (Life Insurance).
– Two of the three newly promoted teams are sponsored by gambling firms, bringing the Championship’s numbers into the Premier League. Wolves (W88) and Fulham (Dafabet) are the talking points here, while Cardiff City have chosen a different route. This stat goes to show us that the wealth of Championship clubs sponsored by gambling companies will eventually move to the Premier League, but fail to go all the way to the top.
– Lots of traditional Premier League clubs now have gambling sponsors: Everton (SportPesa), West Ham (Betway) or Crystal Palace (ManBetX) are just a few examples.
Are There Any Limitations For Sponsors?
It is worth mentioning that there are certain limitations to gambling sponsorships. For example, the gambling company is legally required to have a valid license to operate in the UK. A part of their yearly turnover must also come from business done in the islands. They cannot simply open up a small shop or have a website with a couple of hundred customers and sponsor a Premier League club.
Premier League Clubs That Partner With Gambling Sites
But if a company does manage to fulfil these conditions and a couple more, they can place their name and logo on the shirt of a club playing in the best league on the planet. And here are the 9 companies which managed to do so, in alphabetic order of their clubs:
Bournemouth – M88
Bournemouth have opted to continue their deal with M88, which brought them 3,5 million pounds last year. The broker isn’t the most notable or famous in the UK sports betting scene, but tying their fates to a Premier League club is sure to boast this.
Furthermore, they’ve picked up Bournemouth when they were a club which was just promoted to top-tier football, and many people considered them a one-time fluke. Now, they’re gearing up for yet another season in the Premier League. And last season, their home form was nothing to scoff at. Lots of teams failed to win points at their ground.
Burnley – Laba360
Burnley have decided to swap Dafabet (last season’s sponsor, which brought them 2,5 million pounds) with Laba360 – another new betting site onto the UK betting scene. Burnley were very attractive for sponsors due to their incredible 7th place finish last time around, which gave them tickets for Europa League participation – for the first time in the club’s history. This result has allowed them to negotiate a much better deal than last season.
Crystal Palace – ManBetX
Crystal Palace are a house name in the Premier League, although they’ve spent a part of the last decade in the Championship. They have one of the best youth academies in England, and regularly produce top tier players.
ManBetX have reached a deal with Crystal Palace to extend their deal for the current season as well, after paying around 6,5 million pounds to have their name printed on their kit last season. Wilfried Zaha is one of the main reasons why Crystal Palace are an interesting pick for gambling operators – he’s not only a star player, but a very sociable one too.
Everton – SportPesa
Everton are a house name in the Premier League. Period. They’re a club with an immense fan base and lots of tradition, challenging top 6 quite a few times over the last couple of decades. For this season, they have maintained their very lucrative deal with SportPesa – who paid 9,5 million pounds last year in sponsorship – the second highest in the Premier League for a gambling company, second only to West Ham’s deal with Betway.
Fulham – Dafabet
Fulham are once again in England’s top tier, and they are, of course, sponsored by a gambling company. The club who started the whole idea of betting sites sponsoring football clubs plays with Dafabet’s name on their chest. The bookmaker chose to remain in the Premier League after their deal with Burnley collapsed, and will pay Fulham somewhere between 2 or 3 million pounds this season.
Huddersfield – OPE Sports
Huddersfield have survived their first season in the Premier League after a long while, and so has their deal with Ope Sports. The fee surely rose from the 1,5 million they paid last season, which was on par with Brighton’s fee from American Express – bottom lowest in the Premier League.
Newcastle – Fun88
Newcastle are another classic name, although their football performances haven’t been quite the best in recent times. But a large stadium, huge fan base, and some star players (and coach, too – Mr. Benitez is quite the character) managed to earn them a 6-million-pound deal with Fun88 last season. They’ve extended this deal to 2018/2019 as well.
West Ham – Betway
West Ham enjoyed the biggest sum received from a gambling company last season, winning 10 million pounds from Betway. Their story of survival, led by an old-timer manager, has inspired Betway to continue their sponsorship onto this season as well – and hopefully see the club somewhere closer to a mid-table finish, where they would traditionally belong.
Wolves – W88
Wolves have won the Championship quite easily last season, and are now looking at Premier League survival – hopefully, without a lot of worries. W88 are their partners in this endeavor. The Philippines-based broker is at its first deal with a Premier League club, but Wolves seem like a great solution.
To sum up, these are the clubs which are backed up by bookmakers in this season of the Premier League. The trend is balanced in recent seasons – around 9 or 10 clubs have this sort of deals each year. A true breakthrough would be for a betting company to manage to snag a deal with a top Premier League club – although they’d have to pay significantly more than 10 million, the biggest sum a gambling firm pays this year. If the trend is to continue growing, that is the next logical step for the betting sites to take.