Chelsea have reportedly agreed a sponsorship deal with Stake.com – despite Premier League clubs voluntary agreeing a prohibition on gambling advertising on the front of their shirts.
However, the Blues will look to take advantage of a loophole that won’t see the ban kick in until the 2025/26 season.
That extra time was given to allow current sponsorship deals to run their natural course – it wasn’t expected that new agreements would be penned with gambling operators during the interim period.
Chelsea have been looking for a new sponsor after their deal with mobile network Three came to an end at the conclusion of the 2022/23, although it was expected they would pen terms with a company in another sector – German financial outfit Allianz was one such option.
Stake.com already have an agreement with a Premier League club in the form of Everton, which was signed at the start of the 2022/23 campaign. That will likely run through until the ban starts in 2025, although the duo haven’t always seen eye to eye after Stake used Everton’s imagery in promotional material – the Toffees forced them to stop after stressing there was no commercial affiliation between the two.
It’s worth noting that all Premier League clubs voluntarily agreed to stop having gambling firms on the front of their shirts – it wasn’t mandated by league chiefs, the FA or any other power.
It leaves six top-flight clubs seeking new deals ahead of the ban being imposed: Bournemouth, Brentford, Everton, Fulham, Newcastle United and West Ham.
Bournemouth’s deal with Dafabet will run out at the end of the forthcoming 2023/24 season – they may or may not sign an extension up to the cut-off point.
Brentford’s agreement with Hollywoodbets has come under scrutiny given Ivan Toney’s ban – he won’t play again in 2023 after being found guilty of betting on more than 250 games. It’s been rumoured that the Bees will seek a non-gambling replacement sponsor.
There’s been no word on the future of Everton’s deal with Stake.com nor Fulham’s agreement with W88, the Asian firm who signed a ‘record’ partnership with the Cottagers in 2022.
Newcastle United, unsurprisingly, have dumped Fun88 in favour of Saudi Arabian company Sela, while West Ham are expected to remain loyal to Betway given that they share one of the longest-standing partnerships in the Premier League.
A Question of Taste
Although sponsorship deals with betting firms will be effectively outlawed as of 2025, Premier League clubs are still able to pen agreements with firms that operate in sectors where gambling is very much the order of the day.
According to SportBusiness, Chelsea only agreed to the Stake.com deal after a prior agreement with a cryptocurrency company fell through. One aspect of crypto, of course, is individuals gambling on whether the value of an intangible asset will increase or decrease over time.
The Blues already have a shirt sleeve sponsor, WhaleFin, which operates in the crypto space – there are no plans to ban gambling firms from sponsoring shirt sleeves, incidentally.
It’s interesting that gambling firms are a no no, but an unregulated industry that encourages individuals with no investment experience to buy and sell assets that have no physical form continues to be prevalent on the shirts of Premier League clubs, who of course are watched by tens of millions of people worldwide each season.
The difficult for those clubs with gambling sponsors will be finding replacements with deep pockets. Tough economic conditions are forcing businesses to re-evaluate their marketing spend, which could hit sport hard – for example, many snooker tournaments coming up in the 2023/24 season, including two majors are yet to have found a title sponsor just weeks shy of the campaign.
A lot of tournaments yet to have a sponsor on here.
Cazoo World Championship & British Open but not Masters or UK Championship. pic.twitter.com/Oz8zuVlaiG
— Phil Haigh (@philhaigh_) June 16, 2023
With Stake.com putting their money with their mouth is and outbidding Allianz to secure prime real estate on the front of Chelsea’s shirt, it’s clear that gambling firms are going to take every last opportunity to promote their product prior to the ban.
Given the money involved, it wouldn’t be a surprise if more clubs follow suit and sign short-term deals with gambling operators to ensure they make hay while the sun shines.