The UK looks set to ban gambling companies from advertising on the front of English Premier League shirts, a move that could dramatically change the market for one of the biggest assets marketing available for teams.
Betting partners have been an important part of the UK football advertising landscape since a 2005 law relaxed restrictions on gambling companies. This season, nine Premier League teams have a gaming logo on the front of their shirts, deals worth a combined $ 79.22million (Â£ 57.64million), according to the analytics company and GlobalData consulting.
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A government review of this 2005 gambling law, spurred by concerns about drug addiction, mental health and financial protection, cast doubt on this lucrative revenue stream. Several reports indicate that the review, which began in December 2020, is likely to suggest a ban on Premier League shirts featuring the logos of betting companies. If the proposal is approved by Parliament, it will not take effect until 2023 at the earliest.
The review could also recommend changes to stadium advertising and broadcast. A representative from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), which is leading the review, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
British restrictions would follow those already in place in Italy and Spain. This contractionary trend comes as the American marketing engine rushes in the other direction. This year, for the first time, sports betting was allowed to advertise on television during NFL games. As more states legalize the practice, operators move closer to shifting their massive marketing budgets from expensive local campaigns to national campaigns. The owners of the National Hockey League recently approved the addition of jersey badges for the 2022-2023 season, with betting operators allowed to purchase this space.
In the UK, betting operators first appeared on jerseys in the 2002-03 season when Fulham sponsored online gaming company Betfair. In 2006-07, the number of sports betting on Premier League shirts increased to three. This total increased steadily until 2016, when half of the 20 clubs sported betting company logos on their jerseys.
None of the six most valuable clubs have ever had a sportsbook operator on their jerseys, while others have simply scoured them. For example, Wigan Athletic players wore 188BET on their chest for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, and then introduced the international games brand 12BET for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, for a net loss of 176 Paris.
Many of these companies are not even fully functioning in the UK – they are looking to market themselves in other places, where Premier League games are broadcast – and their advertising practices have angered some fans. Earlier this year, Norwich City ended a partnership with BK8 after just five days due to fan outcry.
A ban on these deals would particularly affect the earnings of mid-level and lower-level teams, according to Liam Fox, an analyst at GlobalData.
âClubs at this level are unable to attract the same high-value, blue-chip sponsorships as the teams at the top of the table,â said Fox. âHowever, for betting operators, the foremost of their sponsorship considerations is brand exposure. These clubs still appear as regularly on broadcast feeds as the bigger clubs, thus acting as an effective mechanism to increase the sports betting revenues of its captive fan base, at a much lower cost. â
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