Top tier football has never been richer. Thanks to massive TV broadcasting deals that make top flight football now broadcast all around the world, sponsors have also realized that an association with a popular team can expose their brand to potentially hundreds of millions of people. It’s a much changed, giddy world compared to just a decade or two ago when most clubs were sponsored by relatively localized companies, looking to gain traction specifically among that league’s supporters. With football a global sporting favourite drawing enormous worldwide audiences, online casinos have invested heavily in sponsoring clubs across all of the European leagues.
The Ways Online Casinos Sponsor Football Clubs
Many fans forget that clubs have much more sponsors than the ones who are emblazoned over their first team shirts. Although this is now a worldwide trend, the English professional leagues – especially the EPL – serve as an example of how incredibly monetised football has become. Over the 2016-2017 Premier League season, 50% of the teams competing had gambling company on the front of their shirt. A couple of them were relegated but Newcastle United proudly announced their promotion with Fun88 online casino becoming their shirt sponsor, so that figure is going to be about the same.
Yet while most supporters associate their clubs sponsorship deals with the shirt, the fact is that top tier clubs now have hundreds of ‘partnership’ deals with global – and sometimes very obscure brands. Look for example at online dating hookup app Tinder trying to negotiate a way onto the sleeves of Manchester United’s famous red strip! Every single club worth its commercial salt has an association with some form of online casino/betting operation. Usually, these are promoted with discounted/special incentives that grant club supporters (sometimes only season ticket holders) access to much-improved odds and exclusive bets.
So Who Are The Biggest Casinos Sponsoring Football Clubs?
With gambling now the fifth largest source of sponsorship revenue for global football teams, it’s no surprise that many clubs are often sponsored by the largest international casinos. It’d be impossible to list all of the deals because there’s simply so many, but here are a few examples to show the reach of online casinos in the football industry.:
At various stages the current or former shirt sponsors of Man Utd, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich and assorted others. They have also sponsored every stadium in the Portuguese first and second divisions and are key partners with Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, and FC Porto. They tend to work on short term deals compared to most other commercial partnerships, but have featured in every top European league to date.
Given the Premier League’s (and increasingly the Championship) global exposure there’s a huge array of casinos that sponsor clubs across the divisions. Fulham was the first back in 2002/2003 with their Betfair sponsorship, which started a snowball of massive interest in gambling companies linking up with football clubs. Examples include Dafabet (Sunderland & Burnley), Bet365 (Stoke City), Mansion Group (Bournemouth & Crystal Palace), Betway (West Ham) and countless other associations across the leagues.
Casinos may spend millions each season to have their logo on the shirts, but there’s, even more, money being invested through broader commercial tie-ins. Visit pretty much any top European clubs website and there will be a direct link to a partner casino offering enhanced odds. It’s not just the famously pro-gambling UK either – Italy has recently seen Juventus sign a record breaking deal with StarCasino even though they don’t feature on any team colours or stadium billboards. Online is the way the casinos aim to make their money – and the association with football is absolutely paramount.
The Future Of Football & Casino Partnerships?
Expect more of the same. Gambling is different to alcohol and tobacco companies that previously tended to dominate the global sponsorship markets. Not only is gambling becoming an increasingly accepted form of leisure activity, most clubs are fulfilling their pledges to warn about the risks involved. Sure there’s still a chance of a puritanical backlash if the exposure continues to grow at the current rate, but when it comes to money every football club in the world is always on the lookout for more. Expect even more global casinos (which many domestic fans may never have heard of) continuing to invest millions into the invaluable exposure that football offers their brand.