Football sponsors at risk

Premiership football clubs’ shirt sponsorship deals with gambling firms seem likely to face an enquiry by the government over concerns that they may encourage children to gamble.

The multi-million pound deals involving Tottenham Hotspur, Middlesbrough, Blackburn and Aston Villa, could be terminated if it’s found that the current deals are illegal.

According to current law, it is illegal for gambling companies to target children with advertising. However, the law with regards to shirt sponsorship is somewhat ambiguous with some legal opinion stating laws are already being broken, owing to the popularity of replica shirts with children.

"According to the letter of the law it is perfectly possible to see that all these clubs are breaking the law," stated one leading solicitor in sport law.

One idea was removing the sponsors name from the shirt of under 16 sizes, but many claim this is just dodging the law. The government announced last night that they will start an enquiry on the concerns early next year.

"There are some concerns about the use of sponsorship in sport and football clubs in particular and the Gambling Commission will be consulting on this issue in the New Year with my full support,” confirmed Sports Minister, Richard Caborn.

The Gambling Commission, developed by the government, will have the power to force premiership clubs to remove any such sponsorship from their shirts but will first find out opinion across the gambling and football industries.

The government’s announcement will send tremors of worry to the affected clubs, especially Tottenham Hotspur, who recently signed a £34 million deal over 4 years with online casino company Mansion.

The massive exposure of the premiership around the world has made football clubs attractive advertising targets for online gambling firms, as the rise in the popularity of online gambling allows them to explore more expensive marketing methods.

"Premiership matches are shown all over the world in over 220 countries," said Nigel Currie, of sports marketing consultants Brand Rapport.

"It's a huge global industry, the gaming industry now, and the Premiership's an ideal way to promote themselves."

If a ban was introduced, the premiership would follow France in their stance against gambling firms advertising in football. Gaming companies are not allowed to advertise unless they have been granted a French gambling licence.

Earlier this year, chief executives of Austrian-based Bwin, Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger, were arrested before a press conference announcing their sponsorship of Monaca football club. Monaco are now sponsored by HSBC.

Editor, - 2006-12-08 12:28:34

Online Casino Gambling at