Football club shirt sponsorship remains a major draw card for big brand marketers, with this form of advertising set to bring in £349.1 million for English Premier League Clubs in the 2019/20 season. This amount, which trumps the 2018/19 total of £325.6 million, sees the industry top its own record for shirt sponsorships for the 10th season in a row. This is according to the 10th annual review of Premier League shirt deals, by UK sports finance journalist, Alex Miller.
Notably, the review revealed that half of the 20 shirt sponsorship agreements signed for this season are with gambling operators, whose collective contribution to the sport in this form is estimated at £68.6 million. This is despite widespread criticism of irresponsible promotion of excessive gambling via sponsorships of professional sports teams, particularly in football.
While the highest valued EPL shirt sponsorship deal (£67 million) for 2019/20 is between Manchester United FC and automotive partner, Chevrolet, the largest such deal for the gambling industry is between West Ham FC and Maltese operator, Betway and amounts to £10 million.
The next largest EPL shirt sponsor from the gambling industry is Kenyan sports betting operator, SportPesa, which handed over £9.6 million to Everton FC for the privilege of having its logo appear on the team’s shirts. Next up is ManBetX of Malta and its £8 million contribution to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, followed by LoveBet’s (Hong Kong/ China) £7.5 million sponsorship of Burnley FC.
Crystal Palace, New Castle United, and Watford FCs have signed £6.5-million sponsorship deals with ManBetX, Fun88 (China/ IoM) and Sportsbet.io (IoM), respectively. Meanwhile, W88 (Thailand), M88 (Gibraltar), and Dafabet (Philippines) have inked shirt sponsorship deals with Aston Villa (£6 million), Bournemouth (£5 million) and Norwich (£3 million) FCs, respectively.
These astronomical investments indicate that neither the sponsors nor the football clubs are paying much heed to criticisms about the growing commercialisation of professional football clubs and their alleged advocacy of excessive gambling. The concern among anti-gambling lobbyists is that such ubiquitous gambling brand presence on the sports field will serve to normalise gambling culture to an unhealthy extend, thereby increasing the risk of problem gambling.
Nevertheless, several operators are reported to be in talks with EPL clubs to secure separate shirt sleeve sponsorships in the near future. This is in addition to the nearly £69 million already on the table with the 10 aforementioned gambling operator shirt sponsorships.
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