Posted on: July 6, 2023, 08:24h.
Last updated on: July 6, 2023, 08:38h.
In April, English Premier League (EPL) soccer clubs agreed to prohibit the sponsorship of gambling on the front of the 20 top-tier clubs’ shirts. The new policy doesn’t take effect until July 1, 2026, the start date of the 2026-27 season, and a spate of gambling-related sponsorships is causing friction.
Recently, Chelsea announced that it was onboarding Stake.com, a move that faced immediate opposition. The outcry was so loud that the deal has been yanked off the table.
Now, two more bookmakers are going to gamble on partnering as main sponsors of EPL soccer teams, bringing to nine the number of clubs that have bookmakers as their main financial contributors.
Burnley, Fulham Add Betting Sponsors
The first to sign a new agreement was Burnley FC, a recently promoted team, which has had gambling sponsors in the past. It announced a week ago that it had signed an agreement with W88 to add the online gaming operator as its front-of-shirt sponsor.
W88, which has had sponsorship ties to Fulham FC, Crystal Palace, and Aston Villa, will be on the front of Burnley’s shirts for the upcoming season. The deal covers both the men’s and women’s teams in a deal that it only described as being highly lucrative.
Fulham has added a bookmaker as its main sponsor, despite the backlash it received from fans when it signed W88. The club, which also recently brought on Royal Caribbean as a sponsor, signed an agreement with iGaming company Sbotop for the 2023-24 season.
Blackpool FC, a third-tier soccer team that doesn’t have to follow the EPL’s new directive, is also joining the group. It has brought on LeoVegas, which has been found on the jerseys of Manchester City players, as its primary sponsor for the 2023-24 season.
Aston Villa recently announced that it was going to onboard online gambling company BK8 as its primary sponsor. The move, in light of the EPL’s new policy and the ongoing anti-betting sentiment in the UK, didn’t go over well with the club’s fans.
The deal was for two seasons, but the fervor it is causing could turn it into a short-lived partnership. This has already been witnessed recently, proving the power fans have over their teams.
After Chelsea announced that it had agreed to put Stake.com on the front of its players’ jerseys, it wasn’t long before it rescinded the deal. The club announced this week that it is abandoning the plans following backlash from the Chelsea Supporters Trust and others.
A recent study by the UK’s Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), a lobby group for soccer fans, shows that most fans in England and Wales are against a marriage between the sport and gambling companies. 73% of the 10,000 people surveyed said that there’s too great a presence of gambling advertising and sponsorships in soccer.
At least one club is listening. Sheffield United has publicly announced that it won’t accept any sponsorships from gambling-related companies, regardless of the money they may offer.