Bookies looking for sponsorship edge could see boost for club shirt deals

By Paul Nicholson

October 17 – A self-imposed broadcast advertising ban by bookmakers on pre-9pm ads could drive UK betting sponsors and their marketing money back to clubs and drive up the value of premium shirt sponsorship positions.

Paul Fox, CEO of Philippines-based online bookmaker LeTou, said that “really you have to look at the way legislation could go in the UK. If labour get into government, legislation is inevitable but if the Conservatives stay in power then it is less certain. But the marketing money can be expected to go somewhere and into shirt sponsorship is an obvious place.”

LeTou until the end of last season sponsored Swansea City and had the shirt branding position. This season Fox has changed sponsorship tack for LeTou and has become Inter Milan’s first Asian online gaming partner. It is also the first step into Serie A club sponsorship for the betting firm.

“The club’s great history, their fantastic international fanbase and the fact that Inter is back in the most important European competition, the UEFA Champions League, makes them ideally placed to support our continued growth in the Asian marketplace,” said Fox.

Inter’s Chinese owners Suning, also attracted Fox as they “offered unique opportunities to leverage their sporting interests”.

For Premier League clubs it is the international TV exposure that attracts the bookmakers.

Nine Premier League clubs currently have betting sponsors on their shirt front – Bournemouth (M88), Burnley (Laba360), Crystal Palace (ManBetX), Everton (SportPesa), Fulham (Dafabet), Huddersfield (Ope Sports), Newcastle United (Fun88), West Ham United (BetWay) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (W88).

None of those sponsors are targeting their advertising at the UK market but are focussed on getting their brands into the Asian and fast-growing African betting markets.

A mid-level Premier League team jersey sponsorship currently costs £5-6 million per season – they are usually short term deals based on the club staying in the Premier League. That price could be pushed up if UK bookmakers like William Hill, Paddy Power, Corals and Ladbrokes are forced to drop their pre-9pm watershed broadcast ads and decide to enter the market.

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