Sports marketing experts have said the sponsorship market will radically change if gambling brands are banned from participating, as the Government reportedly now favours.
Reports in recent days have claimed that ministers’ concern over gambling addiction is growing following the opening of a DCMS review of the Gambling Act in December, and that a ban on shirt sponsorship is a “likely” result.
Such a ban would drop the cost of shirt sponsorship deals with the eight Premier League clubs who currently have gambling brands on the front of their shirts by between 25% and 50%, according to Joel Seymour-Hyde, the UK managing director of sports sponsorship specialist Octagon.
“New sponsors could enter the market, as happened at the height of the 2008-10 global financial crisis. Brands who may have been priced out by betting brands, or didn’t want to be associated with a market cluttered with betting may also suddenly emerge,” he said.
The eight clubs and their sponsors are: Burnley (LoveBet), Crystal Palace (W88), Fulham (BetVictor), Leeds United (SBOTOP), Newcastle United (Fun88), Southampton (Sportsbet.io), West Ham United (Betway) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (ManBetX).
The next biggest main shirt sponsor category in the Premier League is financial services, which accounts for four clubs’ deals, followed by airlines and online car retailers, each with two.
Seymour-Hyde added: “Relatively ‘easy money' from overseas betting brands like Fun88 and LoveBet would be hard to replace in the first one or two years – particularly for those clubs outside the Premier League Top 6 and in the Championship, who have been reliant on this revenue source for some time.”
Gambling brands are attracted to football sponsorship partly due to the size of the football gambling market, he pointed out. “It’s the number one sport to bet on in the UK and internationally, so betting brands want and need authenticity and a connection to the game.”
Another attraction is that “a football shirt is an incredibly efficient way to reach international football fans”, so the question is how many brands have this requirement.
Betting brands have known this day will come, according to Seymour-Hyde. “It was the idea we had behind the Paddy Power #saveourshirt campaign: Lead the way in getting betting brands off the sacred shirt, before there’s no choice.”
“Ultimately in the long run, the market will correct, clubs will adapt, and when we’re all bored of online car retailers and FX trading platforms sponsoring our teams, maybe a new saviour will emerge.”
The DCMS consultation also covers whether gambling brands should be banned from advertising and runs until the end of March.
The Advertising Association, which will be participating in the consultation, said in a statement: “Gambling advertising in Britain is subject to strict rules that already prohibit adverts which seek to create a sense of urgency about placing a bet, and prevent operators targeting marketing to self-excluded customers. Operators that fail to abide by these rules face sanction by the ASA and, in the case of repeat offenders, risk enforcement action by the Gambling Commission.”