Betting on the English game
It’s a global fact that English football is one of the most popular, most viewed, and most followed professional association football in the world. Its prominence is undoubtedly a plus for companies while having a partnership or sponsorship with them is considered a top opportunity. The English football has for so many almost two decades sewn itself into betting as has betting into football.
Betting and football both complement each other so much and primarily appeal to almost the same audience. Betting companies have been very proactive in having their brands advertised through English football, with proven results to betting companies from viewers across the world. This article looks at the reason behind the importance of betting for English football below.
Sponsorships have become normalized between betting and football in England, with betting companies devising more innovative ways to be involved in football. The English Football League (EFL), for example, has been sponsored by Sky Bet from the 2016/2017 season to the 2019/2020 season. The sponsorship has even led to the rebranding of the league to titles such as “Sky Bet Football League” and “Sky Bet EFL”. The sponsorship has seen EFL getting millions of pounds from the betting company.
Also, in the 2019/2020 season, 10 out 20 Premier League teams have shirt sponsorships with gambling companies, with their brands displayed on these clubs’ shirts. More applies to the EFL where 17 out of 24 clubs have shirt sponsorships with several gambling brands. In particular, sponsorships from betting companies account for an annual 40-million Pounds contribution to the EFL and clubs in the league.
Beyond shirt deals, betting firms have also begun sponsoring football fans to watch their clubs’ matches with prepaid tickets across a full season. Also, some betting operators now sponsor stands and stadiums in English football. For instance, Stoke City’s stadium has been named Bet365 Stadium, which emanates from a stadium-naming-right between Stoke and bet365, its parent company.
Also, a good majority of clubs in the Premier League each have reputable gambling companies supporting their title bid. This has been made especially common, with every betting operator fighting very hard to have a fair market share.
Advertisements in English Football have come in various forms over the years, with the same intent of bringing betting closer to football fans. The truth is that English football has a global following from millions of people from all parts of the world. Therefore, these advertisements are chiefly aimed to attract punters from countries where online gambling isn’t restricted.
So far, these advertisements have landed visible results, as we have seen, these betting companies expand their reach significantly. The most pronounced advertisement method by betting companies is the on-ground advertisement, where the logos of clubs are displayed within and around stadiums. This has become an appealing force to punters from around the world.
Alongside club advertisements, there has also been personal advertisements for betting brands by top footballers. For instance, former England captain Wayne Rooney agreed to wear the number 32 shirts upon joining Derby County, which is sponsored by 32Red.
Moves to Ban Betting Sponsorships and Advertisements
The House of Lords has commenced legislative actions to ban clubs’ shirt sponsorships by betting companies. This was contained as one of the 66 recommendations in the Lords Report which seeks to reform the law on gambling. The upper Legislative body aims to establish a connection between betting and problem gambling and ultimately put an end to problem gambling.
The shirt sponsorship ban, as contained in the recommendation, should take effect immediately for premier league clubs and from 2023 for EFL clubs, if passed. It is the reasoning of the legislative committee that EFL clubs have lower resources than the Premier League clubs, and would gradually adapt to the changes within the 3 years’ gap provided.
You would recall that before now, there had been a Whistle-to-Whistle ban on advertisement five minutes before and after a professional football competition in England. Also, there’s an existing age ban on gambling advertisements, which restricts people below 25 years from participating in gambling adverts.
However, the EFL and British Gaming Council (BGC) have both kicked against the move to ban shirt sponsorships, stating that betting sponsorships contribute an annual 40 million Pounds to the EFL. They also maintained that the economic downturns of the coronavirus pandemic underscore the need for such sponsorships.
Betting has been an integral ally of the English football for decades on end. Thus, stopping shirt sponsorships may not entirely solve the menace of problem gambling. No solid connection of problem gambling has been made with shirt sponsorships yet. It behoves the committee to dig deeper in order to unravel the real cause of problem gambling in the United Kingdom, as that would be more evidence-based.