Report: Soccer clubs facing ban on betting shirt sponsorships

Report: Soccer clubs facing ban on betting shirt sponsorships
British government ministers have committed to reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act and are expected to tighten restrictions around betting company branding appearing on soccer team jerseys, with a blanket ban a possibility, according to The Times.

The report comes amid increased pressure at a governance level to tackle the relationship between soccer and gambling following the rise of online betting websites and casinos. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed that it has committed to reviewing regulations around the marketing of gambling in sport and, according to the British newspaper, shirt sponsorship in soccer is one of several areas up for review.

Labour opposition would reportedly seek to ensure that a blanket ban on shirt sponsorship is legislated for.

A blanket ban would mark the biggest change to UK gambling regulations in 15 years and have serious revenue implications for English soccer’s professional clubs. Half of the 20 teams in the Premier League, English soccer’s top-tier, have gambling brands as their main shirt sponsors. During the 2019/20 season, Premier League clubs stand to earn UK£69.6 million (US$89 million) from shirt deals with betting firms, with most clubs also holding smaller partnerships with companies from the gambling industry.

In the second-tier Championship, 15 of the 24 teams rely on betting companies for shirt sponsorship and the English Football League (EFL), which oversees the three professional tiers below the top flight, could be hardest hit by any law changes. The EFL, which is sponsored by Sky Bet, says that UK£40 million (US$52 million) is paid by the gambling sector to itself and its clubs, describing betting income as a “significant” part of its financial model.

An EFL spokesman told the Times: “It remains our view that the gambling industry should make a financial contribution back into football, given the significant revenues it generates from our matches without bearing any of the associated costs.”

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