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The ban on gambling sponsorship is closer and closer day by day. Thus, all the related clubs and other sports teams and organizers must make the first steps to adapt to the new rules.
Approximately two years ago we wrote that the well-known new entrant of the gambling market, Marathonbet got the opportunity to support, and of course, advertise themselves on Real Madrid’s jerseys. However, since then the things have been changed. A year ago Spain introduced a new bill, which will ban any forms of gambling advertising via sports teams or events. Even more, it turned out after a short period of time, the UK Gambling Commission doesn’t support these forms of marketing moves from the wagering firms either. The consequence became that the betting companies started to losing their spots among Premier League sponsors. In short, as time goes by, we must accept that gambling sponsorship won’t be an acceptable form of revenue increase in the football economy.
Partially, this is a huge loss both for the firms and clubs. On the other hand, with these strict law changes the authorities want to reduce the acknowledge of the gambling sector among minors. Just to show an example, Paul Pettigrew, who became famous as a footballer and as a gambler, told a story about a gambling prevention course with 15-year-old teens, when the group of children could list 13 different gambling companies.
Will the Ban on Gambling Sponsorship Mess Up the Working of the Big Football Clubs?
We don’t have to go far to find sports teams which are supported by betting firms. For example, in the Premier League, both West Ham and Burnley are wearing a betting company on their football shirts. Therefore, the UK government’s consideration to ban gambling sponsorship in sports, and of course mostly in football can easily cause a serious sports-economic issue. Rick Parry, the chairman of the English Football League also spoke against the realization of the act. He told that without the evidence that these cooperations between the football clubs and the gambling firms are causing problem gambling it would be unreasonable to force these significant changes.
On the other, the campaigners will never agree with these statements. Their biggest point is that betting sponsorship on football shirts normalizes gambling habits for children.
What do gambling sponsorships mean to clubs and sports teams in numbers?
Rick Parry also said the following: “At the margins, a betting sponsorship ban could be the difference between some clubs going under or not. It’s not easy finding new sponsors at the moment.” Therefore, the ban would be a more significant problem for the smaller clubs, since the big ones would find a well-paying partner one way or another. And the gambling logos on the jerseys just the tip of the iceberg. In the Premier League, eight teams wear some kind of logo which are related to wagering. But 17 have some form of agreement with a betting company. So, it’s not a surprise that EFL is lobbying against the new act with all forces. What is the icing on the cake is that the current health crisis created a more hundred million pounds hole in the football clubs’ finances. Therefore in the short term, the first victims would be the sports teams’ wallets.
In numbers, EFL is sponsored by Sky Bet with £40m each year. While an average club achieves £5-6 million for a season. For example, one of the “big guys”, West Ham is supported by Betway with a whopping £10m each season.
The Big Argument Between Ethics and Logic
We must admit, that the Commissions’ new plan isn’t unreasonable at all. The ban on gambling sponsorship on minor sports teams also shows that we must pull a line with betting advertisements to protect the next generations. On the other hand, betting on sports events are as old as the sports events themselves. While football is surely the part of the European culture, betting on it also became one. Is this a forced phenomenon by the operators to increase their income? I don’t think so. It’s more like the nature of capitalism. Even more, human nature itself. We will never say no to easy money, and we will be desperate to bet on our hometown in a world-class sports event.
Probably the only solution is to find the golden middle way. I won’t argue, we must reform gambling advertisements but we can not spill blood on fluffy gambling animals just to ensure that our children won’t touch them. What makes the whole thing even more irrational is the fact that even if the minors won’t meet as many gambling companies as they do at this moment, they will be aware of the existence of betting. Th only thing that we will ensure is that only the biggest betting companies will stay on foot.
“The game must go on without gambling money”
Mark Palios the chairman of Tranmere Rovers stated that “football can wean itself off” gambling money. As there are many English football clubs which isn’t related to any kind of gambling sponsorship. For example, Chelsea, Liverpool, Forest Green Rovers, Luton, or Sheffield don’t have any kind of contract with the mentioned companies.
However, Mark Palios sees the argument from a completely different point of view. He says, that the only way to make national football “gambling-free” if we make the whole sports industry sustainable. As player wages are irrational and the club owners are pay way to much attention to increasing their income.
In summary, it’s hard to find a solution to gambling sponsorship. Since modern problems require modern solutions, and the appearance of betting firms on football shirts only appears in 2005 when online wagering went through a huge revenue explosion. One way or another, the ban on gambling advertisements is on the table and only time can decide will there be a golden middle way, or the whole industry will be reformed with or without an agreement with the football clubs and sports teams in the UK.