Premier League May Seek Voluntary Ban on Gambling Partnerships

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The Premier League will ask topflight soccer clubs to back a proposed measure for a voluntary ban on front-of-shirt sponsorships in the league, Sky News revealed, citing sources close to the matter. This comes at a time when a number of soccer clubs have been securing such partnerships with around half of the competing teams now having emblazoned the front of their shirts with betting logos.

A previous report by Sky News said that the government would allow shirt-sleeve branding to continue indefinitely. While this is not confirmed, it has been a major concern for many.

As the government is still dithering over whether such partnerships should be prohibited, regulated under tighter standards, or left as they are, the Premier League wants to act preemptively and ensure that all is well.

Sky News reports that the plan is for these partnerships to disappear over the next three years, giving sufficient time for existing partnerships to be honored without causing financial duress to teams that may have them actively.

Come 2024-25, the Premier League hopes that no such deals will be in effect and no new ones would be struck. This would require commitment from clubs, who are also facing some challenging financial predicaments.

The league has done it before. The voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban was signed with operators, who stand to benefit the most from this. The same scenario is possible for the Premier League. The good news is that the Premier League only needs the approval of 14 clubs to adopt the measure.

However, an anonymous club executive said that the Premier League is not giving clubs sufficient time to consider, as they had been asked to report back in only a few days. Another Sky News source said that the proposal was to make the ban permanent, but with the option of overturning it with a two-year’s notice.

Ban from Shirts Doesn’t Mean Gambling Advertisement Won’t Show

But banning front-of-shirt sponsorships doesn’t mean that betting logos won’t be seen. On the contrary. The Premier League intends to keep periphery advertisement, one executive told Sky News. The number of betting sponsors in English soccer has been climbing steadily.

There are partners such as Spreadex, Delasport, Fun88, and numerous others. There is not much certainty at this point about what will happen next. The Premier League wants to negotiate a voluntary ban that will then be backed by governments, saving everyone a lot of trouble, but this would still need support from a good number of participants.

The biggest clubs in the Premier League, to name Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City are likely to support the ban as their revenue is not contingent on such partnerships in the first place. This solution though may not be enough to appease people who claim all gambling advertisement needs to be removed from stadia.

Since peripheral advertisement will supposedly be continued, this will certainly reverberate with hardliners who want to see gambling advertisements. The White Paper which is still due by the DCMS is the most comprehensive review of the Gambling Act 2005 in the last 15 years.

Author: Ian Douglas