English Premier League teams Aston Villa, Burnley, and Fulham have stirred up a hornet’s nest by inking fresh on-shirt sponsorship deals with gambling firms — despite agreeing with the rest of the EPL to ditch the shirt deals from 2026/27.
EPL clubs should ‘think seriously’ about their responsibilities
The prodigal three came under heavy fire Sunday with the Chief Executive Officer of the NHS, Amanda Pritchard, saying EPL clubs should ‘think seriously’ about their responsibilities, an opinion NHS England shared via Twitter:
The fact the three teams are exposing themselves to such high-level criticism reveals, at the very least, just how high the stakes are in the EPL for the upcoming 2023/24 season. Clearly, the teams’ executives see the fallout risks as worth the considerable fortune that these deals will amass.
Demonstrating the profitability of these gambling deals, insiders say Villa’s BK8 deal is worth considerably more than the Birmingham club’s previous £6m ($7.6m) partnership with Cazoo. Aston Villa’s electrifying 2022/23 season under Unai Emery ended with qualification for Europe, so Villa owner the NSWE group needs all the financial help it can get to compete in the transfer market while paying top money to key players.
Khan must feel obliged to give ambitious coach Marco Silva extra financial support
The same applies to Fulham’s SBOTOP shirt deal. After a solid season ending in a tenth-place finish, owner Shahid Rafiq Khan must feel obliged to give ambitious coach Marco Silva extra financial support, especially since the Portuguese on Tuesday turned down a staggering £17m ($21.5m) deal to manage Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal for one year.
Meanwhile, Vincent Kompany’s Burley won promotion to the EPL this past season and will be looking to avoid a drop straight back down, so its W88 shirt deal — which Inside World Football estimates to be in the region of £10m ($12.6m) — also makes sense for Burnley owner, US sports investment firm ALK Capital.
Executives of the three soccer teams voted to go ahead with the sponsorship deal despite the approaching ban, revealing perhaps not everyone buys into the dangers of on-shirt advertising.
Pritchard’s argument that Villa and company “are telling child fans that gambling is okay” simply via a BK8 logo on a shirt must also apply to other brands marketed in soccer, such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Sony PlayStation.
Overdoing any of these products can lead to obesity, tooth decay, and mental health issues. However, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s were two of the main sponsors of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Sony PlayStation sponsors the UEFA Champions League.
are more gambling addicts simply coming forward for help?
Additionally, while the NHS CEO stated there’s been a “really significant” increase in public demand for NHS addiction services, could it not simply be there were fewer gambling addicts in 1948 because the UK population was smaller? Or are more gambling addicts simply coming forward for help?
Of course, gambling addiction is indeed what Pritchard calls “a really cruel disease and […] a life destroyer.” But, perhaps, rallying against soccer teams with gambling brands on their shirts allows the UK government to draw attention away from its bigger troubles, such as ongoing NHS strike action.
As for Aston Villa, Fulham, and Burnley, it will be interesting to see how much the shirt sponsorship cash is really worth to them.
exemplifies the greed that dominates football”
Villa already has its own supporters’ trust and campaign group Gambling with Lives (GWL) on its case, calling for the club to reconsider having BK8 on its shirts. Last week, GWL spokesman Will Prochaska said the partnership “exemplifies the greed that dominates football and shows why we need the government to step in to regulate gambling advertisements out of the game.”
The three clubs will, no doubt, be hoping the government reconsiders its current stance on front-of-shirt sponsorship deals. But given how long it took for the white paper on gambling reform to emerge, they could be waiting a while.
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