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UK Government considers betting sponsorship ban across sport

The Government are considering a ‘blanket-ban’ of all gambling shirt sponsorships in sport across Britain, with Premier League football clubs set to be hit the hardest.

Government considers betting sponsorship ban across sport

If the ban were to be legislated, it is estimated that Premier League and Championship clubs would take a combined financial hit of over £110million per year. The ban would also mark the biggest shake up in sports advertising history since tobacco sponsorships were first banned.

Of the 20 clubs in the Premier League, 8 of them have a gambling company as their main shirt sponsor for the 2020/21 campaign. Most current Premier League clubs are partnered with a betting firm. In the Championship, 16 of 24 clubs had betting partners last season.

Only 8 from the combined 44 clubs in the Premier League and Championship don’t list an official gambling sponsor or partner, these being: Liverpool, Swansea City, Sheffield United, Wycombe Wanderers, Chelsea, Barnsley, Rotherham and Luton Town.

Luton Town’s Chief Executive, Gary Sweet has been very outspoken of his discontent towards gambling sponsorships. In an interview with the BBC in 2018, Sweet said that he is ‘not comfortable’ with gambling sponsorship, further stating, “We do not want to promote excessive gambling behaviour through our support base and our players”. The Championship side have reportedly turned down over £500,000 from gambling companies sponsorship offers.

Alongside football, snooker and darts are sports that are also predicted to be hit hard by the sudden crackdown of gambling sponsorships.

The Chairman of sports promotions company Matchroom Sport, Barry Hearn has claimed that the ban could be a ‘disaster for every layer of sport’ but is welcome to the prospect of new regulation.

Hearn said: “Clearly, there's going to be some action but we don't know how far. Are they going to extend beyond shirt sponsorship? Are they going to look at more controls over advertising, or special offers? Or are they going to ban it completely?”

“I think the damage to sport would be enormous if they banned it completely. It would be a disaster for every layer of sport. But I do think that the idea of self governance is not going to work. There do need to be rules in place, and the government's got to come up with a wording.”

Mark Zarb-Cousin, the director of Clean Up Gambling has said that the relationship between sport and gambling needs to be reset and suggested a levy on gambling operators.

“Footballers, darts players, snooker players and rugby players are like walking billboards for gambling companies,” Zarb-Cousin started.

“The evidence shows this sort of advertising is impacting negatively on children who are growing up thinking you have to put on a bet to enjoy sport.”

If the United Kingdom were to introduce a ban on gambling sponsorships in sport, they would join a list that includes Italy and Spain to not permit gambling shirt sponsorship deals.

Author: Fred Dobberson