UK Premier League Teams Diverging On Gambling Sponsorships

July 6, 2023
Back
English Premier League clubs Chelsea and Brentford F.C. have taken differing approaches to backlash from fans to their team's gambling sponsorship plans, as the relationship between UK football and the industry become ever more complex.

Body

English Premier League clubs Chelsea and Brentford F.C. have taken differing approaches to backlash from fans to their team's gambling sponsorship plans, as the relationship between UK football and the industry become ever more complex.

Chelsea has reportedly ended discussions with Stake.com to be its front-of-shirt sponsor for next year, reportedly due to pressure from fans.

The decision to drop the company, which already appears on fellow Premier League club Everton’s shirt, follows a demand from Chelsea’s Supporters Trust to reject the deal after it warned that associating with an online casino and betting company is not “in the best interest of our members”.

Members of the trust voted overwhelmingly against the planned deal after an “urgent question” was put to them. More than 77 percent “strongly disagreed” (62 percent) or disagreed (16 percent) with the deal.

On June 18, the trust wrote an open letter to Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly explaining how it believed the deal would negatively impact the work done by Chelsea’s charity foundation and isolate a large group of supporters.

Chelsea’s fans appear to have ultimately succeeded in their aim to avoid a gambling sponsor; however, their West London neighbours in Brentford have not.

On July 4, Brentford mens first team revealed its new kit for the next two seasons with South Africa-based Hollywoodbets as the front-shirt sponsor, despite reports that the club had been searching for a non-gambling sponsor following a recent major controversy with one of its players.

On May 17, 2023, Brentford star player Ivan Toney was handed a suspension from all football and football-related activity for breaches of the Football Association’s (FA) betting rules.

The FA announced the eight-month suspension with immediate effect, as well as a £50,000 fine and a warning for Toney.

Jay Harris, a Brentford’s reporter at the Athletic, said on social media following the new kit unveiling: “By sticking with the gambling firm, despite Ivan Toney’s ban for breaching the FA’s betting rules, the club has made the wrong call.”

Many Brentford fans share Harris’ view, including the Brentford Independent Association of Supporters (BIAS), responding to the club's announcement on social media with disappointment at the choice of sponsor.

The attitudes of both the Chelsea and Brentford fans appear to reflect a wider shifting mood among fans in the country towards sports relationships with gambling sponsors.

On June 30, charity Gambling With Lives responded to the findings of a survey conducted by the Football Supporters Association, a body that represents fans in England and Wales, which found that 73 percent of the around 10,000 football fans questioned agreed with the statement: “I am concerned about the amount of gambling advertising and sponsorship in football.”

The Premier League has entered into a voluntary agreement between the clubs to end shirt-front sponsorship from the end of the 2025/26 season.

However, gambling sponsors will still be able to appear on shirt sleeves and other pieces of attire such as training tops, as well as on the highly visible pitch-side hoardings during games.

It appears unlikely that sport sponsorship rules will change anytime soon.

Speaking during the Westminster Media Forum on the next steps for football governance in England on June 15, Ben Dean, a director of sport and gambling at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), said he believes the Premier League's voluntary front of shirt gambling sponsorship ban represents “proportionate” action.

“We were most worried about appealing to children and young adults. The strongest link there was with Premier League players, where children want to wear the shirts of their favourite players, so stopping that was a priority for us,” Dean said.

When asked by VIXIO GamblingCompliance if the DCMS would take more action to curb gambling sponsorships, Dean rejected the idea, explaining that many of the lower football leagues are currently dealing with multiple financial challenges and the government does not want to add to their woes.

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.