Premier League football clubs stand to earn nearly £350m from sponsorship next season. Half of the teams in the 2019/20 season, that’s 17 out of 24, will be sponsored by gambling firms.
During the 2019/20 season, half of the Premier League’s shirts will be adorned with the logos of gambling companies. The announcement that echoes the concerns of many; that gambling has been normalised among young fans.
This coming season, Premier League clubs are set to earn a record £349.1m from shirt sponsorship deals. The figure is a rise of more than 10% from 2018/19 when the figure was £315.6m.
10 of the 20 top flight clubs have made deals meaning their players will display the branding of a gambling company, this is up from last year’s nine. The teams have signed deals worth a combined £69m.
Betting appears to have an even tighter grip in the Championship; with 17 out of 24 club shirts planning to show a betting logo.
“The time for warm words is over”
Despite growing concerns from MPs and campaigners, the gambling industry seems only to have tightened its grip on football.
Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has said that the gambling industry was undermining its own claims to be behaving responsibly. Watson has said that he would ban gambling companies from football shirts if the party won power.
“Less than a year ago, we were told by the gambling industry that they are committed to reducing the amount of advertising in football. We were told that we are facing a ‘watershed moment’ in which they would strive to provide an ever safer gambling environment.
“These are their words, not mine. But it is impossible to take these words in good faith when we are actually seeing an increase in gambling advertising around matches.
“The time for warm words is over. Either the industry is going to act in good faith, or we will need stricter regulation of gambling advertising – starting with a ban on football shirt sponsorship.”
While gambling companies represent the most numerous sponsor among football shirt sponsors, data compiled by the Sporting Intelligence website suggests that they are not the most lucrative.
Manchester United has secured the upcoming seasons most profitable shirt deal in the form of the club’s $80m-a-year sponsorship deal with US automotive giant Chevrolet.
While none of the top six have a gambling sponsor, most the remaining clubs’ shirt deals are with gambling companies.
“Given gambling companies have accepted the principle of not showing TV ads during football matches because they are visible to children, it is completely unjustifiable for the pre-watershed ban to not extend to shirt sponsorship and pitch perimeter advertising as well,” said James Grimes, a recovering gambling addict and leader of The Big Step movement.
The Big Step is a charity walk from Manchester City to Manchester United, via six clubs that have betting sponsors, to raise money for Gambling With Lives and raise awareness about the problem.
With growing concerns about the impact of these deals, both Ladbrokes-owner GVC and Paddy Power Betfair have called for an end to shirt sponsorship deals.