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Premier League asks clubs to voluntarily remove shirt betting sponsors

Jul.7 – In a bid to wean its clubs off betting sponsors as primary club partners, the Premier League has asked clubs to voluntarily support the phasing out of shirt sponsorship over a three-year period.

The UK government has threatened a blanket ban on shirt sponsorships as it considers how it will regulate how online bookmakers market themselves. The threat is that the sponsorship ban would be immediate and backed by legislation.

There are currently nine of the 20 Premier League clubs with online bookmakers as their main shirt sponsors. The bulk of sponsorships are aimed at Asian markets rather than UK punters and are typically worth between £5m and £7m a year for clubs.

In an attempt to keep on the good side of regulators, the Premier League, in a letter sent earlier this week, asks clubs to commit to a voluntary ban which would start with the new season but allow existing agreements to supplement their terms as long as they expire no later than the 2024-25 campaign.

The clubs have a very short deadline to respond. For the proposal to pass league-wide, 14 clubs need to be in favor.

One area that may not be covered by the ban is innings sponsorships, while perimeter board advertising and other club betting sponsorships and partnerships are likely to be only lightly regulated.

The key to avoiding potentially prohibitive legislation is a voluntary agreement with the Premier League.

While the prospect of legislation has been on the radar for some time, many clubs have nonetheless chosen to retain their betting partnerships, with Everton FC even announcing a new deal with Stake.com covering the 2020/21 season – a move criticized by fans and anti-gambling lobbyists, particularly because Everton had previously taken high morals by making a fuss to end a previous shirt sponsorship with online betting company SportPesa.

The reality is that clubs would comfortably replace betting company shirt sponsorships, but the reality is that there are too few sponsors willing to pay the Premier League shirt freight.

The relationship between the Premier League and the betting industry is symbiotic on many levels. As a broadcast rights sales manager told Insideworldfootball, “the reality is that Premier League betting volume in Asian markets drives a large portion of the rights fee paid”.

It remains to be seen what impact the removal of jersey betting sponsorships will have to make betting safer. If the result is to significantly reduce Premier League betting volumes, the knock-on effect could be that it inadvertently affects broadcast revenue and viewer interest.

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