Football is the world’s most high-profile sport, enjoyed in every country around the globe, and with such a huge audience of fans, players and followers, it is no surprise that big business wants to be associated with the sport. This is particularly true when it comes to the gambling sector, which has been strengthening its links with football over recent years.
The value of sponsorship deals between betting companies and sports brands has been estimated at around $330.5m per year as gambling and betting companies compete to secure the rights to publicize their brand alongside football teams and players.
Of course, the fact that the gambling industry is also expanding partially is a factor. Chumba Casino is just one example of a new breed of online gambling company aiming to market their modern games and gambling platforms in new ways, and as new competitors enter the market, older stalwarts are attempting to use their financial muscle to improve their own brands.
The attraction to football of the gambling industry has been particularly marked in the case of the English Premier League, the most lucrative domestic league in the world. It is also regarded as one of the most competitive. Although realistically, there are only six clubs who are regularly in contention for the Premier League trophy, that provides much more competition than is often the case in the rival markets of Spain, Italy, Germany or France, where two or in some cases one club dominate.
That competitive nature, together with the heritage aspect of being associated with the world’s oldest football league, and the presence of so many of the football world’s top stars, makes the English Premier League an obvious attraction for gambling companies that want to boost their brand.
On the other side of the coin, there is a big incentive for English football clubs to turn to gambling sponsorship. The “Big Six”, led by current frontrunners Manchester City and Liverpool, alongside Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, consolidate most of the wealth in English football and secure the best players on the biggest contracts, while other clubs are forced to seek ever more significant revenue streams just to keep up. In recent years, this has led to many clubs turning to the gambling industry.
The sheer amount of revenue that gambling companies can bring to bear is too tempting for most football clubs to turn down. At present, nine of the Premier League clubs have betting company shirt sponsorship deals, while in the second tier of English football, the Championship, which is full of teams hoping to get into the Premier League, 17 out of 24 teams have betting sponsorships.
Many of these deals enable lower-ranked clubs to access a level of finance that simply wouldn’t be available to them otherwise. For example, London club Crystal Palace has signed up for a deal with a newly formed betting company that is reported to be worth around $8.3m every year. By contrast, their previous deal, with a logistics company, was worth only $1.37m annually.
These sponsorship deals are not confined to regional sponsors. While the likes of West Ham United have made arrangements with European betting companies, there is an increasing Asian gambling industry presence in the Premier League. Newcastle United, Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers have all signed sponsorship deals with Asian-based gambling companies.
While football is popular throughout Asia, it is the Premier League that has been most successful in promoting itself to the Asian market, and the inevitable result is that Asian betting industry incumbents see an association with the Premier League as a great promotional tool.
However, while the gambling industry’s links with the Premier League are strong, it is notable that most of the deals are with teams that are not considered part of the elite. This is a phenomenon that occurs across European football, as the big-name teams have the name recognition to demand more lucrative deals.
By choosing to partner with a smaller or medium-sized Premier League contender, a company can enjoy exposure in the world’s biggest football league at a lower cost.
The trend for stronger links between the gambling industry and the Premier League has not been universally welcomed, but as European governments tighten up the rules on television gambling advertisements, shirt sponsorship deals with football clubs will become an ever more attractive and viable option for gambling companies, which should ensure that the relationship between the Premier League and the betting sector continues to grow and deepen in the years ahead.