New advertising rules to remove betting sites from front of football t-shirts
UK betting experts are eagerly anticipating a “voluntary” new agreement amongst Premier League football clubs, whereby betting sites and bookmakers will no longer feature on the front of football t-shirts. While the full details of the agreement are not yet known, it is certain that it will be reached imminently, as failing to do so means that the UK Government will intervene and introduce a statutory ban in order to implement the change.
The consensus is that Premier League football clubs will speed up the new agreement in order to try and influence the terms of the new advertising rules. While popular UK betting sites and bookmakers still feature prominently on the front of football shirts at present, the plans are for this practice to be banned going forward. Betting sites however will still be able to reach advertising deals with clubs and have their logos / company names feature on the sleeves of football shirts. The rush appears to be influenced by rumours that, should the football clubs fail to take action, the Government would step in and ban all advertising, as opposed to front-of-shirt advertising only.
A meeting of senior Premier League figures and shareholders was held today, 30th March 2023, however no decision has yet been reached. While the agreement is expected to be reached and announced as soon as practicable, findbettingsites.co.uk understands that the changes will not take effect immediately. Despite the pressure from the UK Government, the UK Gambling Commission, and most gambling harm charities, football clubs are expected to have a grace period of 3 years in which existing sponsorship and advertising contracts with betting sites will run out naturally before the “ban” takes effect.
Football and its relationship with UK betting sites is likely to be one of the issues covered in the much anticipated and long-delayed White Paper on UK betting an gambling. The White Paper was supposed to be published in February 2023, however it has now been pushed to April 2023 (although this is not set in stone, and the deadline may be missed again). The White Paper is expected to initiate a comprehensive reform of all UK betting rules, regulations, and laws, with the aim to modernise and improve them in order to make gambling safer for bettors. The UK Government has indicated that if the Premier League clubs find a solution to the issue of front-of-shirt advertising of their own accord soon, this will not feature in the White Paper. It is not clear if it is now too late for this, seeing that the publication of the White Paper is supposed to be imminent, or if the clubs have an insider knowledge and have been made aware that there is still time to prevent Government intervention.
Given that the front-of-shirt spot is very influential, and there has been a rise in calls to limit the exposure of children and young people to betting sites, the proposals have seen significant backing. The Chairman of Brighton Football Club Tony Bloom has said:
“From a personal point of view, it’s really important to be aware of children seeing gambling or betting advertising on the shirt in particular, because they buy the shirts. I don’t think having gambling sponsorship on shirts is good, but I understand that for some clubs, particularly clubs down the leagues with much less revenue, the gambling companies pay the best so it’s a difficult decision to turn them down. Although there is gambling advertising all around, I just think on the shirts it’s the most obvious, so that would give me the most concern.”
It is currently unknown to what extent the change would affect betting site in the UK. Some of the best-known betting sites have made a policy of ensuring that they feature prominently on the shirts of football clubs they sponsor, which gives them a unique opportunity to reach a large number of prospective bettors from different social circles and significantly increase brand recognition. Betting sites such as betway, 32red, bet365, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Casumo and many others have been known to feature prominently on the shirts of Premier League football clubs and other teams across the UK. Betting sites are some of the most featured types of companies, with others being airlines (Emirates), car sale websites (Cinch and Cazoo), Credit Cards (American Express), mobile operators (Three), and software companies (TeamViewer).
The agreement will certainly be detrimental to the financial situation of the premier league clubs. The front-of-shirt spot is one of the most coveted advertising methods across sports in the UK, and costs the companies a pretty penny. For example, the 5-year sponsorship deal between TeamViewer and Manchester United costs the software company the staggering £47 million a year. The company who held the spot before that was car maker Chevrolet.
While there is certainly a hurry to have the agreement in place, there are rumours that any potential vote on the matter may not take place until June 2023. Clubs are expected to agree to the deal however, on the provision that the 3-year grace period is put in place. It is not likely that the agreement will span outside the Premier League, as the financial effects of the change would undoubtedly cripple smaller and less well-funded clubs.
While a number of lobbyists were eagerly expecting a solution to the issue today, there has been no news after the meeting of the shareholders. We will continue to follow the topic with interest and will report any developments on our blog.