Football betting sponsors - what do the fans think?
Yep, the government is thinking of banning betting sponsors from football shirts. But what do the fans make of it all?
Football shirt sponsors. Some you love, some you hate, while others cause heated debates and just a small amount of eye-poking. Ouch.
In recent years, the fiercest arguments have stemmed from the rise of gambling sponsors. A huge number of English clubs now feature betting logos on their shirts, with the government looking into banning these sponsors altogether. Eye-poking, indeed.
Everyone’s got their own opinions here, so we wanted to know what fans think of this sponsorship kerfuffle (a word I definitely need to use more often).
After looking into the rise of betting sponsors, we ran an extensive survey to find out how fans feel about it all. Do they want to ban them, keep them or just stop arguing about them? Let’s dive in.
The Rise of Premier League Gambling Sponsors
Unless you’ve somehow missed the endless stream of Premier League action, you’ve probably seen a fair few gambling sponsors this season. The matches just haven’t stopped, with Match of the Day displaying gambling logos on screen for 71-89% of its running time. Even Gary Lineker doesn’t get that kind of air time.
Whatever you make of them, the enormous number of betting sponsors is there for all to see. Of course, this wasn’t always the case, so we’ve looked back at how much things have changed since the dawn of the Premier League. Ah, nostalgia.
Back in the 90s, it was alcohol sponsors that reigned supreme - the days of Carlsberg, McEwan’s and Holsten. Although they aren’t strictly banned (like tobacco products are), these controversial sponsors were gradually phased out, and we haven’t seen an alcohol shirt sponsor since the infamous #OutbidChang campaign back in 2017.
Although alcohol brands are still partnered with clubs and even tournaments, betting companies quickly moved in to fill the shirt void. Since Betfair first appeared on Fulham’s shirts in 2002-03, they’ve become the most common type of sponsor in both the Premier League and the Championship.
In 2020-21, 8 top-flight clubs have a gambling company as their main shirt sponsor, but only 3 (Chelsea, Liverpool and Sheffield United) aren’t affiliated with a betting partner in some way. West Brom and Aston Villa have gambling sleeve sponsors, which means 50% of Premier League match shirts have a betting logo on them somewhere. Hence the ongoing kerfuffle.
READ | The greatest ever Premier League shirt sponsors, chosen by us.
Gambling Sponsors in European Football
Of course, gambling sponsors aren’t just restricted to English football. This remains a hot topic throughout other parts of Europe, too, with betting logos featuring on shirts right across the continent. Maybe the Champions League anthem should include a reference to Betway or something.
Betting sponsors are far more common in some countries than others, so we’ve looked into how the Premier League stacks up against other European top-flights. Since these leagues vary in size, we’ve figured out the percentage of clubs which have a gambling company as their main shirt sponsor this season.
Right then, 40% of Premier League clubs currently have a betting company as their main shirt sponsor - the highest across the top leagues in Europe. And that’s not counting training kits or sleeve sponsors, which brings that number up a lot higher.
Spain’s La Liga isn’t too far behind on 35%, but they’ve already agreed to ban gambling sponsors from the start of next season. They’re following in the footsteps of Holland, Italy and Turkey, who have already banned betting logos from club shirts.
Despite the lack of a ban, no club in the German Bundesliga has a main betting sponsor - although Mainz and Werder Bremen do feature gambling logos on their sleeves. Numbers are also very low in France (only Strasbourg have a betting sponsor), even though Ligue 1 is actually sponsored by Betclic.
As for Scotland, only 2 teams have betting sponsors - but they also happen to be the 2 biggest clubs. I mean, that should give you a pretty big indication as to how lucrative these deals can be.
What the Fans Think of Gambling Sponsors
Alright, so we could sit here and go through numbers all day long. You get it, lots of football shirts feature gambling sponsors these days. There’s no need to keep banging on about it.
But how do fans feel about betting sponsors?
Brace yourself for a bunch of percentages, because we surveyed 1500 football fans to find out.
Although their reasons might differ, 45% of fans say they definitely want to see betting sponsors banned. This was an incredibly popular opinion amongst older fans, with 59% of those over the age of 45 wanting to impose a ban, but only 30% of under 34-year-olds agreeing with them.
Fans felt less strongly about actually avoiding shirts which feature gambling logos, but 29% is still a surprisingly high number of lost sales. Once again, these shirts are a much bigger issue for fans over 45, since 41% claimed they’d refuse to buy one, while only 16% of fans under that age bracket felt the same way.
In contrast, only 17% of fans said they were happy with gambling sponsors (mainly men under 34), while 26% stated they really don’t care who sponsors their club. Older fans might favour a ban, but it seems fans of all ages can agree when they just don’t care about something. That’s nice.
Despite so much controversy in the past, opinions aren’t as strong on alcohol sponsors, perhaps because they’ve been out of the limelight for so long. 25% of fans want to see them officially *ahem* canned, with most of these respondents also falling into the “ban gambling sponsors” camp.
So, What Happens Next?
The government will end its review on 31st March, so it shouldn't be too long until we know whether betting sponsors will be banned outright or (most likely) put under tighter restrictions.
Either way, their decision will have massive implications on our beautiful game. No pressure, then.
In the meantime, make sure to drop a comment or join us on Twitter to let us know what you think!