In the upcoming season of the Premier League, half of the 20 teams will have their kits backed by different gambling firms.
It is projected that the clubs are set to earn as much as £349m ($436m) from this partnership, a sharp rise of 10% from last season.
In 2018, just nine teams boasted of having gambling companies as sponsors. The 10 gambling sponsors this season will be putting in an investment of £69m ($86m) to the teams. The next tier down in English football is the Championship; of the 24 clubs in this league, 17 have kits supported by gambling companies.
However, none of the top six teams in the Premier League have a gambling sponsor. However, such sponsorship chances often come with a large price tag.
Manchester United — considered to be one of the most recognizable football clubs in the entire world — has a deal with renowned automobile company Chevrolet that is worth $80m a year. United’s chief rival — Manchester City — has a shirt sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways that is estimated to be worth a whopping £45m ($56m).
The largest gambling company sponsorship in the entire league is Betway’s agreement with West Ham United, which is projected to be worth around £10m ($12.5m).
Gambling awareness organizations, as well as some politicians, have cried foul over the increasing volume of gambling advertising that is seen in sports. To be more specific, football has gambling advertisements everywhere, ranging from shirt sponsors to pitchside and television ads. A movement is already underway to curb gambling advertising in sports because of the number of young, vulnerable people who are watching these kinds of events.
GVC Holdings, which is the owner of Ladbrokes, is already trying to lend a hand to help put a stop to gambling advertising. One of GVC’s brands, Betdaq, is actually the shirt sponsor for Sunderland FC. However, for this season, it is donating its sponsorship to the Children With Cancer charity.
Talking about this generous move, the firm expressed that it is “committed to unilaterally ending all football shirt sponsorship deals with UK teams and banning perimeter board advertising at football grounds, to allow sporting fans to watch their favorite teams without seeing any incentives to bet.”
The Labour Party has also vowed to take action against sponsorship deals and advertising. The party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, states that despite the claims from gambling firms regarding the promotion of responsible gambling, there has not been much evidence that supports this.
Watson believes that if these firms continue to act in bad faith, then more stringent regulations on gambling advertising would need to be implemented.