Sportech buys Vernons Football Pools for £51m

LONDON - Gaming and betting company Sportech has bought the Vernons Football Pools business for £51m and plans a major rebrand of the competition in 2008.

The firm already owns the Littlewoods gaming brand, including Littlewoods pools, and with the addition of Vernons business gives it control of 99% of the football pools market and a combined base of more than 700,000 weekly players.

Sportech is planning to regenerate the football pools market through a major rebrand and relaunch in 2008.

The acquisition has also provided Sportech with improved distribution through an agreement with Ladbrokes, which will give it a marketing and high street presence in a minimum of 1,750 Ladbrokes betting offices.

Ian Penrose, chief executive of Sportech, said: "The acquisition of Vernons, our number one strategic target, and associated fund raising together with the agreement for distribution of pool games through Ladbrokes' retail estate represents another major step forward for our strategy of repositioning Sportech that commenced two years ago."

The company has also signed a deal with the FA Premier League, the Football League, the Scottish Premier League, the Scottish Football League and Football DataCo for marketing and data rights.

Last summer, Sportech signed a deal with Everton FC to become the team's on- and offline gaming partner for the 2006-2007 season.

Sportech has launched a range of Everton FC-endorsed gaming, including a match day spot the ball competition, a weekly updated online gaming section on the club website, and fan correspondence via the club's database.