Place Your Bets: Should Gambling Companies Sponsor Football Teams?

Of 270 voting delegates for the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) discussing to ban gambling sponsorship deals, 93% voted in favour to introduce such measures.

The vote of confidence comes after of 77 players that requested counseling services in the GAA last year, 15% of them were for gambling-related issues; it’s a move that looks to repeat the Football Association’s who last summer announced an end to all betting sponsorship deals, yet Premier League clubs still persist to uphold their relationship with gambling companies.

The problem is clear to see. The betting market costs the public an average of £1.16billion per year, which includes 400,000 Britons having a gambling issue; increasing the awareness of betting companies on sports shirts is only likely to be contributing towards this problem – most notable with an increase in online gambling since betting legislation changed in 2005.

Data Collectio: The Adelson Case – Graph Credit: PokerXanadu – All Things Poker

It’s taking an increasing hold on Premier League clubs and thus the fans; by the 2016/17 season, 50% of Premier League teams had gambling sponsorship on their shirt, a number that was at just three clubs before 2005.

The obvious link between clubs promoting of such sponsorship and the harm of betting is made clear by Rupert Pratt:

“There’s no need for creativity, no need for copywriting. It’s the most cost-effective billboard you can buy.’

‘It’s the purest form of marketing. You are advertising your product at the time people want to put a bet on.”

— Rupert Pratt, director at Mongoose Sports and Entertainment

Although such a connection is easy to recognise, what Pratt continues to stress is that the successful partnerships between betting companies and football clubs are because of the inherent links between the two; they’re both invested into the same concept – football.

With such a relationship, it has then opened markets elsewhere; the more sponsorship, the more money, and thus the more entertainment. Pratt, therefore, goes on to question how the relationship between other marketing companies may not be as lucrative for football itself.

Say, for example, a technology company sponsored half the Premier League teams, there may be nowhere near the amount of financial power to maintain the pull factor of the Premier League, consequently lowering the values of entertainment.

“For many sponsors, it isn’t just about brand awareness, they want to create an emotional association, too. At times I question what it would say about a leading brand. I question what a football club could do for Apple.”

— Rupert Pratt

The increase in such sponsorship – from 2005 where the gambling legislation changed – saw the first spike in Premier League spending and thus the beginning of the attraction of the ‘greatest league in the world’ – a common phrase amongst football fans,

Graph credit: Transfermarkt

If Premier League clubs are going to follow suit of the FA or the GAA, fans would have to accept that the amount their clubs spend on marquee signings could dramatically fall. Other factors could also see a rise in ticket price to compensate the loss of sponsorship from gambling companies; a notion which would only infuriate fans even further.

It is, therefore, a difficult balancing act to maintain entertainment with the issues of gambling.

If authorities are to step in, it could come at a significant cost to the reputation of excitement levels in the Premier League.

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