Gambling sponsor firm names are likely to be removed from the front of football shirts as the UK government is looking to negotiate a deal with the Premier League.
Gambling Firms Taken Off Front of Shirts
Ahead of the much-anticipated release of the White Paper, the UK government is likely to agree to a deal with the English Premier League (EPL) that will see football clubs voluntarily remove gambling operators’ names from the front of their shirts, reported the BBC.
The deal will be in line with the Premier League’s previous statement that “a self-regulatory approach would provide a practical and flexible alternative to legislation or outright prohibition,” but whether the EPL clubs would agree is still unclear as top-flight clubs are yet to vote on the plan.
Out of 20 EPL clubs, eight feature a gambling sponsor on the front of their shirts and if the words of Aston Villa’s CEO Christian Purslow are to be taken at face value, convincing some of the clubs to get rid of their gambling shirt partners may prove difficult.
In January, Purslow met with a fan consultation group after a report that the club had signed a deal with the Asia-based betting firm BK8 and later on issued a statement highlighting that teams outside of the top six would hardly replace gambling shirt sponsors with non-gambling partners as they receive from such sponsorships twice as much financially.
The plan will be even harder to sell to the English Football League (EFL) which is sponsored by a gambling operator and has previously stated that any outright ban on gambling sponsorships would mean £40 million ($48 million) less a year for each of its 72 member clubs.
The Commission Also Urged Voluntary Actions
A voluntary approach to gambling reforms was implied by the Gambling Commission’s CEO Andrew Rhodes who first delivered a keynote speech at ICE London 2023 in which he highlighted that safer gambling would be the way forward for the largest regulated gambling market in the world.
In his speech, he also suggested that the regulator would not impose mandatory affordability checks but would rather allow operators to address the issue themselves. A similar suggestion Rhodes made in an interview with Racing TV, shifting the responsibility to operators to address problem gambling risks.
In the White Paper which is expected to be released in the coming weeks, the government is not likely to propose that gambling sponsorships are banned by law but rather leave the sports clubs to find the optimal solution by means of voluntary actions.
According to the deal, football clubs will retain the opportunity to advertise gambling partners across their stadia and on other parts of their shirts, leaving the way for bookmakers to continue their involvement with football.