Ever since the dawn of the Premier League with the 92/93 season, shirt sponsors have been a staple for fans. While the primary purpose of these sponsors has been to advertise to a wide audience, for the fans, a great sponsor logo can make their home, away, and now third kits look even better.
The inaugural season of the Premier League saw the iconic Manchester United jerseys with Sharp as the sponsor hoist the trophy. The new era of English football also ushered in the long-standing Liverpool kit sponsor partnership with Carlsberg, which created many much-loved strips. At the time, there weren’t any gambling companies or online casino sponsors on Premier League kits.
Fast forward to the start of the 02/03 season, and the first of eventually many gambling companies earned its place on a Premier League jersey, with the Fulham 02/03 kit donning Betfair to replace their Pizza Hut sponsorship. The online casino and betting brand ushered in a slow and steady increase of Premier League kits being sponsored by gambling companies. Now, as we approach the 19/20 PL season, gambling companies dominate shirt sponsorship, but why has this happened?
Why do gambling companies dominate Premier League kits?
Since the launch of the Premier League, the world has changed a great deal. Gambling has long been a popular activity in the UK, but the rapid adoption of the internet by gambling companies has allowed the industry to grow exponentially.
Of all of the markets and games offered by betting sites and online casinos, which often come as one, football betting reigns supreme in the UK, so gambling companies will have, naturally, seen the most popular football league as the perfect place to advertise. In the early days, there weren’t too many websites to choose from, so bettors would often pick the brands that they already knew.
Nowadays, nearly everyone has access to the internet via their computers or mobile phones, and know that there’s a vast ocean of gambling websites that are easily accessible. The competition in the industry is intense, so much so that comparison websites that find the best responsible casinos have become one of the go-to ways to find sites.
So, to try to enhance their standing further, some gambling companies will seek out prime advertising opportunities as well. This is so that when would-be customers see their brand on comparison websites, it will act as a secondary level of reinforcement to familiarise them with the website. Due to the popularity of mobile phones, there are also websites that help guide players to licensed mobile casino games, which further enhances the competitiveness of the industry, making the need to have familiarity with the public even greater.
With so many brands vying for the attention of as many people as possible, the Premier League became the perfect stage for advertising, with millions of people watching each week. On top of this, fans of each club will positively associate brands which sponsor their Premier League kits with their teams, further adding to the effectiveness of the sponsorship.
An increasingly gambling-centric Premier League sponsorship scene
The chart showing the value of PL kit sponsors 18/19 shows that while gambling companies weren’t part of the most valuable sponsorship deals with any of the recognised ‘top six’ clubs, they dominated the rest. The most valuable non-top six sponsorship deal was for the West Ham United 18/19 kit for Betway, with the SportPesa deal on the Everton 18/19 kit being close behind.
Nine of the 20 total Premier League kits of the 18/19 season featured a gambling company as the primary shirt sponsor and, in a fairly new method of shirt advertising, two of the 20 featured gambling brands as sleeve sponsors. Now, for the upcoming season, gambling companies make up half of the shirt sponsors.
PL kit sponsors 19/20 are half gambling companies now, with the newly promoted Aston Villa 19/20 kit featuring W88, the Newcastle United 19/20 kit having Fun88, and both the Crystal Palace 19/20 kit and Wolverhampton Wanderers 19/20 kit sporting ManBetX as their jersey sponsors. There are also three Premier League kits with gambling companies on their sleeves.