Are big name casino brands taking over football?
In any sport, the big name sponsors become linked with the players or teams in a way that is almost symbiotic. Just look at Emirates Stadium or rival airline Ethiad’s impact on the consciousness on City fans. It’s not just in football – in the world of motor racing, the teams are known by the sponsors, from JPS, Camel and Marlboro in the 80s through Canon and Benneton in the 90s to Santander and Vodafone today.
But while the tobacco giants have long been banished and the alcoholic drink companies are rapidly following out of the door, the relatively new kids in town are the online casinos and bookmakers.
Make room for the bookies
Given that sports betting is such a large part of their business, the relationship makes sense. Betting has far more to do with sport than cigarettes and beer have any right to claim. There is also the fact that more people are betting in the online age than was ever the case before. The online casino experts at the Bonus website provide a blow by blow comparison of all the sites on offer – click here to see it – but they acknowledge that sports fans will always plump for a betting site they recognise. Having the company name emblazoned on the team shirts, not to mention the millions of replicas being work by fans the world over, is a great way to build that brand recognition.
It was almost inevitable that the moment one betting site jumped into the world of football sponsorship, the rest would feel duty bound to follow. And that watershed moment happened 15 years ago in 2002. Fulham was the team, BetFair was the sponsor and the fans were a little taken aback. Sponsored by a bookie? Is that OK? After 30 seconds of deliberation, most agreed there could be little harm in it, and the new world order had begun.
Other big names soon followed. Dafabet is better known to snooker fans, having acquired the ambassadorial services of crowd favourite Jimmy White and put its name to a number of high profile tournaments. It has since joined the ranks of Premier League sponsors, first with Everton and West Brom, then with Sunderland, Blackpool and Burnley.
The highest profile deal, however, has to be the one struck between West Ham and Betway. Originally signed in 2015, and extended the following year till 2020, the overall sponsorship package is worth something in the region of £80 million and has been held up as a poster child for how a good sponsorship partnership should operate.
And new arrivals
Of course, BetFair, Betway and Dafabet are all familiar names. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new sponsorship dynamic surrounds the sites that are attempting to use football sponsorship to get a leg up and gain brand recognition. SportPesa is familiar due to the fact that we see it on the Everton strip and the same can be said for Bournemouth sponsor M88. Otherwise we would never have heard of either. Worth £9.6 million and £3.5 million per year respectively? That’s one question that only the accountants will be able to answer at the end of the year.