Premier League and Championship clubs will lose £110 million per year if a Government review of gambling, launched today, leads to a ban on betting companies sponsoring football shirts.
Eight out of 20 clubs in the Premier League are currently dependent upon shirt sponsors from the gambling industry, which brings in around £70m. In addition, the EFL, clubs benefit from £40m in sponsorship and commercial arrangements with the league
In the Premier League this season, West Ham, Wolves, Burnley, Southampton, Leeds, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Fulham all have betting companies on the front of their shirts, while Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion have gambling firms on their shirt sleeves.
More than half of clubs in the Premier League and Championship are sponsored by gambling firms, including West Ham (pictured)
But the financial hit for football from any changes to regulations will be even greater if the review leads to wider curbs on betting companies’ involvement.
Earlier this year, a House of Lords Select Committee on gambling recommended that not only should shirt sponsorship be banned by 2023, but ‘there should also be no gambling advertising in or near any sports grounds or sports venues’.
Currently betting company sponsorship includes, pitch side hoardings, partnerships and sponsorship of training kit.
Bookmakers are also still able to show television adverts during the build-up and post-match analysis on live televised sport.
Bookmakers are also still able to show television adverts during the build-up and post-match analysis on live televised sport
The long-awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act aims to update legislation to provide greater consumer protection in the digital age, which has seen the losses of punters rocket to £14.4 billion per year in 2019.
The review is driven by concern at the number of problem gamblers, which is estimated at 430,000 in Britain. and the pervasiveness of betting in sport, and football in particular.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: ‘Whilst millions gamble responsibly, the Gambling Act is an analogue law in a digital age.
‘From an era of having a flutter in a high street bookmaker, casino, racecourse or seaside pier, the industry has evolved at breakneck speed.
|West Ham United||Betway||10|
|Figures for 2019/20. Source: Statista|
|In addition, clubs can earn further revenue by selling shirt sleeve sponsorship|
|In the 2020/21 season, Leeds United are sponsored by SBOTOP, a deal reportedly
worth £6.5m a year. Fulham are sponsored by BetVictor. for an undisclosed sum. The club’s previous shirt sponsor paid £3m annually. Southampton are sponsored by sportsbet.io after their £7.5m-a-year deal with LD Sports collapsed.
A review of legislation governing the gambling industry has been launched today
Leeds United signed a new shirt sponsorship deal this season with betting firm SBOTOP
‘This comprehensive review will ensure we are tackling problem gambling in all its forms to protect children and vulnerable people. It will also help those who enjoy placing a bet to do so safely.’
The review involves a call for evidence from interested parties during the next 16 weeks ending on March 31, 2021, which will inform changes to the Act.
But it will cause concern to football clubs dependent on income from gambling firms at a time they are struggling financially due to the absence of fans during the coronavirus pandemic.
Southampton agreed a shirt sponsor deal with sportsbet.io at the beginning of this season
Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, told MPs on the DCMS committee last month that it would be ‘potentially catastrophic’ if a ban football advertising was to be imposed ‘overnight’.
And he told Sportsmail last month: ‘‘The timing couldn’t be worse. The situation facing clubs at the moment is pretty dire.
He added: ‘The last thing we need at the moment is restrictions on other valuable sources of income because they can’t be just switched overnight.’
The EFL believes since gambling firms make a lot of money from football there must be a mechanism for it to support the sport.
Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, said football’s betting partners were self-regulating and that there ‘should not be a prohibition on sponsorship’.
As well as sports marketing, the review will also consider online restrictions, wider marketing and the powers of the Gambling Commission as well as protections for online gamblers like stake and spend limits, advertising and promotional offers and whether extra protections for young adults are needed.
Burnley are one of eight Premier League clubs to have a betting company as a shirt sponsor
The government has also announced today that the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will be raised from 16 to 18 from October 2021.
Many changes that are being considered have been raised by the Mail’s Stop the Gambling Predators campaign.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm has studied the link between betting and gambling and estimated the value of shirt sponsorship.
Carolyn Harris MP, the chairwoman, told Mail Online: ‘I would very much welcome a ban on front of shirt advertising, any reduction in sports advertising or marketing or promotion is a step in the right direction.
‘But this is the tip of the iceberg, the reality is we see advertising on hoardings, in match programmes even in kids’ computer games encouraging people and even children to gamble.
‘I know how incredibly tough this year has been for sport and funding is needed now more than ever, but a root and branch review of the relationship between gambling and sport is needed.’
Newcastle United are sponsored by Fun88 and reportedly make £6.5m per year from the deal
Since the 2005 Gambling Act, brought in by Tony Blair’s Labour government, more relaxed controls on betting, including allowing gambling companies to advertise on TV and radio, increased access online and a dramatic rise in the exposure of English football to international TV audiences has seen betting and the national game grow together.
While eight Premier League teams have a betting company on the front of their shirts, a further two have betting logos on their sleeves.
Some of those clubs that don’t have logos on their kit still partner with betting companies. In fact, only three Premier League teams – Liverpool, Chelsea and Sheffield United – are believed to have no commercial tie-in with gambling, according to the betting odds website, The Punter’s Page.
Crystal Palace are one of the eight Premier League sides sponsored by the gambling industry
Gambling is now so entwined with football that an academic study in 2017 suggested betting company branding or logos were on-screen between 71% and 89% of BBC’s Match of the Day runtime.
Another study found in matchday programmes for Premier League and Championship matches, gambling marketing was found on over 20% of pages and in over half of the child-specific sections.
ManBetX sponsor Wolverhampton Wanderers in a deal believed to be worth £8m-a-year
But Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said gambling companies provide support to many sports.
‘I hope Ministers will focus in with laser-like precision on problem gamblers and those at risk. The Government must ensure that any changes do not drive people to the unregulated black market online, where there aren’t any safeguards to protect vulnerable people.’
Mr Dugher said the gambling review must take into account the economic contribution of the industry, which includes, £3.2 billion to HM Treasury in tax, £350 million to horse through an industry levy, media rights and sponsorships, as well as commercial deals with rugby league, snooker, darts and football.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has launched a review of the law around gambling
How the law could change
- Tough new stake limits on online ‘slots’
- Caps on how much a customer is allowed to lose in a month
- Tests on the addictiveness of products before they are released
- A ban on sports sponsorship, which could include no gambling firms’ logos on football shirts
- New curbs on online marketing and an end to bonuses which entice gamblers
- New powers introduced to tackle the black market
- A consumer ombudsman to help wronged customers
- Changes to the minimum age for fruit machines and penny pushers