Betting Companies Comprise Half of 17-18 Premier League Shirt Sponsors

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By Felicity Shields

This upcoming Premier League season, which kicks off in less than a month, the gambling world will have a tremendous impact on team shirt sponsorships.

This has been a rising trend over the past decade and a half, ever since Fulham linked up with Betfair in 2002-03. Here we are, fifteen years later, and exactly half of the Premier League’s teams will a display a betting company logo on their kit.

It’s a stark comparison to the sponsors that punters would’ve expected to previously see. Liverpool, in their long-standing partnership with Carlsberg (and later, finance firm Standard Chartered), and Tottenham Hotspur, with their AIA sponsorship are too examples of the more traditional shirt sponsors. 

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Alt: Swans’ Premier League debut – and 32Red kits, 2011 – courtesy of Wikipedia

The Rise of Gambling Company Sponsorship

Gambling companies – particularly online casinos in the UK – have an almost natural home when it comes to enticing fans to bet on their favorite teams.

After 2005’s Gambling Act, both UK and offshore companies were free to promote themselves – on TV, online and most notably, via team sponsorships. Understandably, this caused a surge in gambling industry advertising, which according to Ofcom shot up by a whopping 1400% between 2005-2012.

Fans of football and horse racing – Britain’s two favorite sporting pastimes – are gambling companies’ primary target markets. Therefore, tapping into fans’ love for their team is a very lucrative move to make. In this season’s shirt sponsorship deals, gambling companies (Mansion Casino, Betway, Bet365 and others) have spent £36.3 million. That’s a very significant portion of the record £226.5 million spent overall on kit logo deals.

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The Global Reach

It’s not only UK-based betting companies which are taking advantage of opportunity to sponsor teams; Philippines-based Dafabet sponsors Sunderland, while Kenya-based SportPesa sponsors Hull City.

The global appeal of the Premier League (and the UK football scene in general) opens doors to foreign companies looking for a raised brand profile – alongside some rather tidy returns. As long as foreign casino companies have a UK license and pay 15% tax on their profits from UK punters (as per the 2014 Gambling Act), they are free to do so.

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