This will be the very first season, in the Premier League, that beer brand sponsors will be missing from club shirts, and instead foreign gambling companies have come to take their place.
The initial round of fixtures witnessed Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town both displaying their new respective sponsors, both being Malta-based gambling companies, ManBetX and Ope Sports. This was followed by Everton vs Stoke, with both sides again having gambling sponsorships.
Since the globalisation and modernisation of football has occurred, Premier League shirt sponsorship has changed dramatically, from Radio and Lager companies, to giant foreign companies due to an attempt to further the interest of Premier League clubs abroad.
This season will see just a few UK-based brands displayed on the shirts of clubs within the Premier League, something that has never been as low as this before. In addition to this, there will be a total of nine bookies as shirt sponsors, and for the very first time, there will be no beer sponsors on the shirts of clubs whatsoever.
The second half of the Premier League era has been subject to many gambling companies replacing shirt sponsors, which were once dominated by beer companies. In the 2002/03 season, it was peculiar when Fulham FC wore Betfair as their shirt sponsor, however it is now the norm.
Alcohol was tantamount with the first decade of the Premier League, which had ‘beer giants’ Carling as its title sponsor for a period of eight years, from 93-01. It would be wrong to rule out the importance of beer within the nature of English football, as partnerships still exist. It is however a sign that beer brands are taking a different approach with sponsors that they once took, thus moving away from shirt sponsorship.
The collection of Britain’s best-selling alcohol producers, named The Portman Group, decided to create a new code which advises brands to be responsible for the limitations of sponsoring football shirts; the key limitation being marketing beer to children via the club shirts. Due to this, many beer companies have removed themselves as shirt sponsors, and instead place themselves as general club sponsors.
With the removal of beer companies from football shirts, it has seen the appearance of gambling companies taking their place. With interest and viewing figures of Premier League fixtures constantly rising globally, it is clear why this move from gambling companies has occurred. It is a fantastic way to reach millions of new people from every corner of the globe, and cheap to do too.
The top six clubs in the league have become incredibly well-known now that their shirt sponsorship deals are mind-blowingly expensive. Manchester United sponsor, Chevrolet, fork out an estimated £53million to feature on their shirts, and Chelsea are paid a staggering £40million a season from Yokohama tyres to be printed on their shirts too. It is important though to remember that the ‘big 6’ charge copious amounts compared to the smaller sides within the league. The remaining clubs, that make up the league, will all pay a small fraction of this, being no more than £10million a year. A fabulous fee to be viewed by millions across the world.
There is no doubt that online gambling has become a massive sector within football, but many of these gambling companies are now foreign. Whilst this may seem odd, and rather confusing, these bookmakers dare not rival UK bookmakers, but instead are marketing themselves towards the ever-growing global audience which the Premier League now offers. An efficient strategy to be advertised indeed.
Despite the numerous benefits, it has become apparent that English Football has sold itself to the realm of gambling advertisements, with sponsors being on shirts, and all around a stadium too. With the growth of money in football, we may see the increase in even more gambling influence within the great game of Football.
In any case, gambling responsibly won’t hurt anyone, or will it?