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Premier League end gambling sponsorship

English Premier League clubs have agreed to remove gambling sponsorship from their matchday shirts by the end of the 2025/26 football season.

Notwithstanding this, clubs can continue to display gambling branding on shirt sleeves and LED advertising after the deadline.

Before the deadline, clubs can also sign new shirt-front deals.

The gambling businesses on the front of the shirts of eight Premier League clubs are estimated to be worth £60 million per year.

The announcement follows a consultation with the league, clubs, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport as part of the government’s ongoing assessment of current gambling legislation.

The Premier League will become the first sports league in the United Kingdom to use such a strategy to curb gambling advertising voluntarily.

The league also collaborates with other sports to create a new code for responsible gambling sponsorship.

The government was not expected to recommend a ban on gambling sponsorship, with the Premier League expected to agree to a move voluntarily.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson mostly agreed on reforms to the Gambling Act 2005 before stepping down in July, causing a delay in the publication of a gambling white paper.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, said on Thursday that she “welcomed the Premier League’s decision.”

“The vast majority of adults gamble responsibly,” she noted, “but we must recognize that players are role models who have a massive influence on young people.”

What is the context?

Last May, a DCMS spokesperson told BBC Sport that the department is conducting “the most complete review of gambling rules in 15 years to see that they are fit for the digital age.”

Proponents of a broader prohibition argue that gambling sponsorship in football has normalized the industry and that greater regulation is required to safeguard minors and other vulnerable populations.

According to the Betting and Gaming Council, representing the industry, the “vast majority” of the 22.5 million individuals who bet in the UK monthly do so “safely and responsibly.”

According to the report, “the rate of gambling problem remains low by international standards, at 0.3% of the UK’s adult population – reducing from 0.4% the previous year.”

On the other hand, a YouGov study for GambleAware in 2021 estimated the figure at 2.8%.

Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader, is a member of the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Gambling-Related Harm, which has been urging the government for tighter protections.

After the club was rumored to have secured an agreement with Asia-based betting firm BK8, Aston Villa’s fan consultation committee met with chief executive Christian Purslow in January. It afterward published a statement adding, “The commercial fact is that such sponsors provide clubs twice as much financially as non-gambling corporations to teams below the top six.”

“A self-regulatory model would give a feasible and flexible alternative to regulation or outright prohibition,” the Premier League earlier stated.

To help teams transition away from shirt-front gambling sponsorship, a collective agreement was made to begin the prohibition after 2025-26.

The English Football League (EFL), which Sky Bet sponsors, previously stated that a total ban on gambling sponsorship for its 72 members would cost clubs £40 million per year.

Given the large amount of money it makes from the game, the EFL’s view on the gambling sector has long been that it should contribute to the financial viability of professional football.

Chairman Rick Parry has already stated that the EFL believes that an evidence-based approach to preventing injury is far superior to a blanket ban.

The Premier League takes a significant step forward

Everton announced last summer that they had agreed to a club-record multi-year relationship with casino and sports betting platform Stake.com.

Following Thursday’s announcement of the league’s agreement, Everton manager Sean Dyche stated, “I am not going to get too engaged in the discussions of judgment about it, but they have made a collective decision, and all parties have unanimously agreed with it.”

According to The Big Step, a campaign to eradicate gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, nearly 30 clubs in the Premier League and Championship had a gambling corporation on the front of their shirt just over three years ago.

Katie Razzall, cultural and media editor at BBC News

Some campaigners believe that the news of this voluntary ban needs to go further. They highlight the Premier League’s influence on children and young people, arguing that gambling sponsorship of football is an important part of normalizing the sector (as they see it).

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Gambling firm names will continue to appear on banner advertising throughout the grounds and on the sleeves of adult clothing even after 2026.

Many people advocated for a complete ban on this type of sponsorship and advertising in sports. However, that had never seemed likely.

All eyes are on Lucy Frazer, the new Culture Secretary, who is picking up where three predecessors left off, changing gambling regulations to make them fit for internet gaming.

There has been tremendous lobbying of MPs by both the industry and those fighting for reform – and that lobbying has reached a climax in recent weeks as final choices on what that would mean in practice are made.