No matter how you consume the Premier League, whether be it in the stands at Old Trafford or on television on the other side of the world, you’re likely to encounter at least a handful of different betting brands. Bookmakers and the Premier League go hand-in-hand, with even Kenya’s SportPesa having been prominent at Everton since signing a five-year deal in 2017 before the Merseyside club decided to end their partnership this year.
Today, half of the clubs in the top division have a betting sponsor on their shirt, every club has a betting partner, and adverts are played ahead of matches every week and it’s certainly a big business. There’s a huge market for betting on the Premier League, with millions of people backing the various markets they have on offer, whether that be individual games or backing outright winners. Some sportsbooks offer Premier League winner each-way odds which are welcoming even more for punters, as they look to differentiate from the crowd.
It certainly is a crowded space too. The betting companies that the 10 Premiership clubs have as main sponsors and flaunt their names on their jerseys are all different, with the likes of Betway, BetVictor, and ManBetX the most prominent.
West Ham and Betway currently represent the biggest deal, and the largest shirt sponsorship deal outside of the top six teams, worth an estimated £60million. It’s proven to be a landmark deal, with the huge influx of betting brands getting their slice of a PL team following.
However, it all began with Fulham. Currently, they are backed by BetVictor, but it was their deal with Betfair in 2002/03 that paved the way for betting companies. That was the first deal between a club and a bookmaker to become the official shirt sponsor, and it completely changed the game. It brought betting and football closer than ever and today, they are real bed-mates that rely so heavily on each other.
The financial support betting sponsorships bring to football is significant, whether that be in the topflight or the divisions below. Alongside the Premier League, betting companies have come a vital part of the income clubs need to survive in the lower leagues.
The government is putting pressure on the relationship sportsbooks have with clubs and want them to end. This would be hugely problematic for clubs as they rely heavily on that, particularly in the leagues directly below the Premier League.
12 of the 24 teams in the Championship have gambling companies as shirt sponsors, and it’s believed that the gambling sector contributes around £40million per season to the 72 teams plying their trade in the English Football League. That has been hugely significant during the pandemic as clubs struggle to survive without the revenue from match-day crowds. Without that, many would have gone under and the EFL are arguing that their contributions are more important than they have ever been.
It is an intriguing time for the sports betting industry and football. There’s a real feeling among clubs that they are hugely beneficial, as the betting sponsorships enable clubs to operate more effectively. These sponsorship deals also allow them to invest in the best talent and continue to ensure that the Premier League and the Championship are among the very best leagues in Europe.