November 20 – It didn’t take long before football capitalised on the decision by the UK government to give it a free pass in its gambling review that left the sport untouched by any new regulation. The English Football League has announced a five-year renewal of its partnership title sponsor Sky Bet.
The online gambling firm will continue as headline sponsor of the Sky Bet EFL until 2023/24 with an agreement the EFL sees is a “20% year-on-year increase from 2019/20 on the current deal and will see the working relationship extended to 11 years, making it one of the longest and most significant partnerships in professional sport.” No value was given for the deal.
As part of an expanded set of rights granted to Sky Bet are the live streaming of 16 mid-week matches on a ‘watch and bet’ basis.
Acknowledging the increasing social concerns about the ever-increasing volume of gambling sponsorships and advertising in football media, the new deal comes with “an enhanced Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), designed to help its customers stay in control and gamble safely.”
The campaign catchline is ‘When the fun stops. Stop.’ and will be used in broadcast, print and on-line ads, while sleeve patches worn by all EFL players will feature a responsible gambling message.
Nine out of 20 Premier League clubs, have their main club and shirt sponsorships filled by betting companies, while almost all have betting partners, some having multiple betting partners for different regions, particularly the Asian markets.
The English FA recently abandoned its sponsorship deal with Ladbrokes, while a prohibition of gambling ads on junior kits is already in force in the UK.
On television gambling ads have become a dominating mainstay of broadcasters’ commercial inventories around live football matches with the labour deputy party leader Tom Watson, telling The Times, that this has now gone too far, and that the government is “burying its head in the sand”.
However, the gambling sector has become a vital and dominant commercial component of club inventories and increasingly important for the EFL. EFL chief executive, Shaun Harvey, said: “This agreement represents the largest title sponsorship in EFL history and once again illustrates how our commercial operations are maximising the revenue opportunities and exposure for the EFL and its clubs.”
The EFL agreement gives Sky Bet an extensive sponsorship inventory including:
- EFL title sponsorship on a worldwide basis.
- Exclusive betting and gaming partner of EFL Digital.
- Official betting and gaming partner of iFollow.
- The right to live stream 16 midweek EFL Championship fixtures on a ‘watch and bet’ basis.
- Have the right to live stream content from Club grounds such as squad details and live odds from inside EFL grounds on a matchday.
- Remain as title partner of the Sky Bet Play-Offs.
- Display branding in stadiums at all EFL matches.
- Player of the Month, Manager of the Month and Goal of the Month Awards, Sky Bet will have the right to award a ‘Golden Boot’ to the top scorer in each division at the end of the season. They will also have the right to award a ‘Golden Glove’ to the top goalkeeper.
Sky Betting & Gaming chief executive, Richard Flint, said: “We… believe the additional focus we and the League are both placing on responsible gambling will show that well run betting operators can play an active part in raising awareness of problem gambling. By using our sponsorship and marketing capabilities to highlight how customers can gamble safely we hope to ensure that nothing gets in the way of people’s enjoyment of sport, definitely not betting.”
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