Bookmakers in the UK will not be able to lure sports fans to their platforms by offering live soccer matches from the FA Cup as the Football Association (FA) will not sell live streaming rights to them in the next tender, reported The Times.
Betting companies will be left out of UK live streaming rights tender in 2024 as the FA is addressing criticism that soccer fans who wanted to watch some of the games live had to open and fund an account with a bookmaker.
The current deal that was struck in 2017 does not involve directly sports betting companies as it was agreed via the IMG agency operating as an intermediary for the soccer governing body in England but allowed seven bookmakers, Bet365, Betfair, William Hill, Coral, Ladbrokes, Unibet, and Paddy Power, to reserve live match streams for new customers via individual contracts with the agency.
Existing arrangements allow for situations like the one in the recent third round of the competition in which bookies were the only source of live streaming but these terms are set to expire in 2024 and the media report suggests the next tender will completely exclude bookmakers.
Mounting Criticism Played Its Part
Pressure to review its media rights sales model started to mount on the FA since January 2020, when the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) raised serious concerns about the deal England’s soccer governing body had in place with IMG that allowed bookmakers to enter through the back door.
To respond to the criticism and after reports surfaced that the FA had engaged with IMG to withdraw from the agreement, all seven sports betting operators proposed to give up their FA Cup live streaming rights. The operators also proposed to give up their exclusivity rights on select FA Cup games with immediate effect.
According to previous reports, the exclusivity of betting companies related to certain matches of the tournament was scheduled to end after the 2021/22 season when matches would be simulcast on the FA’s digital platform.
The FA is determined to cut all ties with the betting industry especially in the light of the upcoming white paper of the Gambling Act 2005 review in which sports betting sponsorships are expected to be outright banned.
The FA severed direct ties with bookies in 2017 when it scrapped an existing lucrative contract with Ladbrokes believed to be worth £4 million a year.