Premier League teams Thursday agreed to end sponsorship deals with sportsbooks for the front of their jerseys, a move widely expected with the impending release of the UK government’s “White Paper.”
The vote was nearly unanimous, with 18 of the 20 clubs favoring the prohibition and the other two abstaining. The league released a statement Thursday saying the agreement “follows an extensive consultation involving the League, its clubs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s ongoing review of current gambling legislation.”
The move is considered preemptive, with the self-regulation expected to be looked at favorably by government ministers, who would then be amenable to allowing clubs to negotiate deals for sponsorship space on the sleeves of jerseys. Had the Premier League not taken this initiative, it is believed ministers would have considered a total ban on sportsbook sponsorship deals. Because some of the current deals between clubs and sportsbooks are multi-year agreements, the new rules will take effect following the completion of the 2025-26 season.
The release of the “White Paper,” which is designed to provide guidance for updating rules and regulations that have been in place since the passage of the 2005 Gambling Act, has been delayed more than two years due to multiple prime ministerial changes. It is ultimately expected to impact practically every form of gambling in the U.K.
Which clubs are directly impacted
Eight of the 20 teams currently in the Premier League have deals with sportsbooks, with West Ham United’s deal with Betway and Everton’s arrangement with Stake believed to be worth the most at £10 million ($12.5 million) annually. Deals with sportsbooks often provide a notable revenue stream for newly promoted clubs from the Championship, with Fulham and Bournemouth signing deals with W88 and Dafabet, respectively, upon their return to the Premier League for 2022-23.
Among the eight sportsbooks, Betway is the one most recognizable to U.S. bettors, as it currently conducts sports wagering in eight states and internet casino gaming in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Betway is getting an additional bump in U.S. attention, given that West Ham has been made the foil of AFC Richmond in the third season of the popular Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso.
Newcastle United, currently third in the top flight and vying for a top-four spot that provides entry into the lucrative Champions League (the top European club tournament), is the top team in the Premier League standings with a sportsbook sponsorship deal. Newcastle, though, terminated its agreement with Chinese betting company Fun88 that provided £5 million ($6.3 million) annually two years early. The inability to fully trace the financial origins of Far East sportsbooks and gambling companies is a growing concern, as most have been licensed via TGP Europe, which is registered in the Isle of Man and beyond the scope of the Gambling Commission when it comes to due diligence.
None of the “big 6” teams in the top flight — Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur — have sponsorship deals with sportsbooks, as all have more lucrative deals with other sponsors. While West Ham is receiving £10 million from Betway in a deal that runs through 2025, that pales in comparison to the £67.5 million ($84.6 million) Etihad Airways pays each year for front-of-jersey space on Manchester City’s kit.
Photo: Getty Images