As another season of football comes to a close, we reach a time when fans get to scrutinise off the pitch matters due to the lack of football.
Kit launches are a big part of the off-season ritual, with rumours being spread before the all important blurry photos in the back of a warehouse, and peaking when each club tries to outdo each other with their cool, innovative, ‘down-with-the-kids’ way of releasing their upcoming design.
With this comes the announcement of new sponsors as well, and the inevitable rise in betting company’s logos taking pride of place in the middle of your team’s new kit.
For the 2018-19 season, nine of the current Premier League clubs had bookmakers as their main shirt sponsor, a number that only increases when you look at the league below.
A spokeswomen for Gamble Aware has said that there are worries over the current level of betting shirt sponsors in the top two tiers.
“With nearly half the clubs in the Premier League, and over two thirds of the Championship league sponsored by gambling companies, we are seriously concerned the relationship between sport and gambling has reached a tipping point.”
But with betting sponsors plastered around every stadium, kiosks in every concourse and a barrage of betting adverts throughout football broadcasts on every channel, is it time that clubs who had taken a ‘moral stand’ against betting sponsors change their ways?
Excluding the top six, who earn tens of millions more than any other team in sponsorship money without resorting to bookmakers, all but one of the next eight highest earners are with betting companies.
Brighton, who are currently sponsored by American Express, are £8.5million behind West Ham (Betway) in sponsorship money, which could make a big difference in a league of such fine margins that the Seagulls survived in the Premier League by just two points.
Even for Southampton, the one club within those high earning bookie sponsored clubs not to have a gambling logo on their shirt, there could be benefits of up to £4million for them to switch.
With such a reputation for having to sell their best players to fund new signings, surely that’s cash that could go a long way.
On top of that, they claim to stay away from betting sponsors for moral reasons, but are happy to have content they publish on social media be sponsored by Sport Pesa, a Kenyan gambling company who sponsor Everton for £9.6million a year.
🔥 PEH x @NathanRedmond22 🔥
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) 9 May 2019
That’s an easy switch for a few extra million pounds which can’t be too much of a real moral dilemma considering they’re happy to promote them on social media.Embed from Getty Images
As long as there are betting sponsors surrounding every other aspect of footballing culture, fitting a bookie’s advert between the handshakes and coin toss, there’s no reason clubs should miss out until the whole of football is committed to wiping out the betting culture that’s so prevalent.