After years of debate and petitionsPremier League clubs have agreed to ban front of shirt gambling sponsors. The changes will take place from the end of the 2025/26 season, giving clubs time to adjust.
Betting sponsors have grown in market share since their introduction in 2002, with 8 Premier League clubs currently having a front of shirt gambling sponsor. For all of the issues surrounding gambling's stranglehold on the game as a whole, countless shirts (in my mind at least) have been ruined by an ugly, clunky betting logo. Let's make no mistake, this is a big win for fans and collectors alike.
There are some quirks to be aware of with the changes, though. What sort of things can we actually expect in a couple of years?
One point which most outlets failed to highlight was that the ban is targeting front of shirt sponsors only. Primary shirt sponsors are a big deal. Every highlights package, every replica shirt (or, if you have a gambling sponsor, everyadults replica as kids sizes will either go sponsorless or have a different sponsor) will feature the logo of the sponsor. When we look back on eras and periods for a particular team, the sponsor is often used to denote that period.
As significant as these changes are, the door will still be open for gambling companies to continue as sleeve sponsors. Sleeve sponsors are relatively new in the Premier League, existing since 2017/18. Naturally we can expect most, if not all, betting companies that are currently front of shirt sponsors to explore sleeve sponsorship opportunities, presumably with the clubs they're already working with.
Meanwhile, in Spain
Infographic via Blinkfire
There's also the question of who will fill the void that gambling sponsors will vacate?
If we take a look at the state of play inLa Liga we can get a good idea. La Liga were ahead of the Premier League, banning betting sponsors back in 2020. Now the league is fairly diverse in terms of sponsor industries, with a number of food and drink companies and typical sectors like telecoms and aviation. The biggest representation comes from the financial sector (22.2%). Notably there is a crypto sponsor, and despite rising concerns around the volatility of crypto companies in the current climate they are not covered by any La Liga restrictions and, as far as I'm aware, the upcoming Premier League changes. (many thanks toBlinkfire for the infographic above).
There's a reason so many clubs have turned to gambling companies; they're more often the ones willing to fork out the kind of cash that's necessary. We only have to look at Nottingham Forest's struggle to find a primary sponsor earlier this season to see how difficult it can be despite the Premier League's profile.
Unless there's a complete collapse in the crypto industry (don't rule it out), I'm fully expecting at least a few groups to swoop in and secure some of the coveted contracts that are made available by the betting sponsor departures. As much as I'd love to imagine a world where local businesses could join alongside teams as we saw so often in the 80s and 90s, but those days are long gone. When we then factor in the likely saturation of gambling sponsors on the sleeves of shirts, the situation might not be as exciting as we're imagining it to be in 2026/27.
Sorry if this puts a downer on your week. This is still a net positive, just not as positive as I'd wish it to be.
The release of Southampton's 2023 home shirt was more than 2 years in the making. Since the announcement of the club's return to hummel in 2021, a remake of The Saints iconic 1987-1989 home was on the cards.
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