English Premier League Clubs Set to Vote on Gambling Sponsorship Ban

By Adam Haynes in Laws and Regulation
| July 5, 2022 10:59 am PDT
  • The English Premier League (EPL) wants clubs to vote on a voluntary ban on gambling companies appearing on the front of teams’ shirts.  
  • The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has ruled out a move that would prevent clubs from advertising betting sites on shirts.
  • Government officials are hoping for 14 out of 20 EPL teams will vote in favor of the ban before July 21.

Despite sponsoring half of the EPL’s 20 team members last season, betting sites in the UK advertising on the front of team shirts may soon be a thing of the past.

On Monday, an email was sent to Premiership clubs proposing to put a voluntary ban on the practice to vote. It is expected that a decision will be reached within the next week or so. According to reports, the English Premier League supports the voluntary ban, but no clubs will be required to vote in favor of the measure. 

In 2021, a potential mandatory ban on gaming sites appearing on the front of jerseys was proposed as one of many potential changes to the 2005 Gambling Act in the United Kingdom. But the Government has yet to disclose details of a White Paper which is expected to land within the next few weeks.

It looks increasingly likely that Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will announce measures to reform gambling laws in the UK. However, sponsors sweating on their existing and future deals with EPL clubs could be spared.

Will EPL Clubs Vote Against Betting Sponsors?

Rather than the tougher stance expected of the DCMS, clubs will instead have the option of voluntarily opting out of sponsorship deals with betting companies.

Doing so will, as expected, deprive them of financial gain. With no real pressure on EPL members sponsored by gaming sites, you would have to wonder what the incentive for voting in favor of a voluntary ban would be.

Government sources have not ruled out the possibility of a blanket ban in the future. In political speak, perhaps the option to voluntarily sever ties with existing sponsors could be perceived as a nudge in the right direction.

Even then, clubs would enjoy the financial benefits of advertising gambling companies below the club crest and kit maker.

By taking the initiative, as some of the UK government see it, a majority vote in favor of a ban would avoid the necessity for legislative changes. However, clubs such as Everton and Bournemouth have recently signed multi-year deals with gambling firms and will be expected to honor those agreements. 

Anti-gambling campaigners are not happy with the move. It was expected that the government would crack the whip as part of what has been billed as the biggest gambling shakeup since 2005. Some are pushing for the eradication of gambling across the board, which would include pitchside ads and social media campaigns.

How Much Would a Sponsorship Ban Cost Clubs?

That would depend on the club. Or, to put it a simpler way, the league in which the club plays.

EPL teams will not struggle to find other sponsors willing to enter into multi-million deals to appear on the front of shirts. The likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United feature non-gambling sponsors on theirs. But what about teams operating in the Sky Bet leagues?

According to the English Football League, the removal of Sky Bet as the sponsors of those divisions would cost clubs upwards of $47 million a year. While EFL clubs are not thought to be in the firing line just yet, it would be just a matter of time before any potential ban creeps up on them.

Furthermore, we could very likely see an argument against a voluntary ban in the EPL if it only applies to teams in the top flight. After all, what sense would it make to ask higher-achieving clubs to bear the brunt of this campaign?

We should have an answer to any questions surrounding this debate in due course. Until then, feel free to keep up with the latest EPL moves and shakes on our soccer blog.

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