UK Government Must ‘Step In’ Over Gambling Sponsors

A campaign group says the UK government must “now step in” after three Premier League clubs announced new shirt sponsorship deals with betting firms.

Burnley and Fulham have one-year deals with W88 and SBOTOP respectively. Aston Villa have a three-year deal with BK8.

In April, Premier League clubs agreed to withdraw gambling sponsorships on the front of matchday shirts by the end of the 2025-26 season.

In a statement, Big Step called the partnerships “short-sighted.”

The group, which is campaigning to end gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, added: “Football can’t be trusted on gambling and the government must now step in to end these deals.

“Clubs talk about mental health while desperately accepting cheques from online casinos to promote gambling – forcing their own young players and fans to be walking billboards for products that cause addiction and suicide.”

The Aston Villa, Fulham and Burnley deals have all been announced in the last week.

In response, the Premier League told BBC Sport that it is the first sports league in the UK to take voluntary measures in order to reduce gambling advertising and said all gambling partners of clubs are already regulated and licensed by the Gambling Commission and are bound by the rules of the Advertising Standards Authority.

W88 has previously sponsored Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers as well as Fulham last season, while SBOTOP has had a commercial partnership with Leeds over several seasons.

Last season Villa were sponsored by car sales firm Cazoo while Burnley were sponsored by Classic Football Shirts.

Fulham said their record sponsorship deal with SBOTOP will play “an integral part in keeping the club competitive” with Burnley adding that the revenue they receive would help the club “compete in the Premier League”.

Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust said it was “highly disappointed” after the Midlands club announced a sponsorship deal with Asia-based BK8.

In 2021, Norwich cancelled a sponsorship deal with the same firm because of its provocative marketing material.

During the 2022-23 season, eight Premier League clubs had gambling companies on the front of their shirts, worth an estimated £60m per year.

As part of the decision to end gambling sponsorship on the front of shirts, clubs will still be able to continue featuring gambling brands in areas such as shirt sleeves and LED advertising after 2026. BBC

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