Premier League Agrees to Ban Front-of-Shirt Gambling Sponsorships By 2026
The Premier League became the first professional football league in the UK to voluntarily accept the need for restrictions on gambling sponsorships, agreeing to ban the display of betting firms on shirts from the summer of 2026.
The news was cautiously welcomed by the The Big Step, a campaign dedicated to ending the longstanding relationship between football and betting. Founder James Grimes believes this move is an imperfect but important watershed.
Eight of the 20 Premier League clubs currently have gambling companies as front-of-shirt sponsors, worth about £60m a year in collective value. While the Premier League clubs have agreed to the measure of their own volitions, it will still be possible to promote gambling brands on shirt sleeves and pitchside advertising hoardings. The club chairman of Premiership team Brighton, Tony Bloom, who has made a fortune from betting, welcomed the ban. “I don’t think having gambling sponsorship on shirts is good, but I understand the gambling companies pay best so it’s a difficult decision for clubs to turn them down.”
Rick Parry, the Chairman of the English Football League, noted that the collective total of advertising money is worth up to £40m a year to EFL clubs, and that without this money there are concerns over its survival. Iain Duncan-Smith, former Conservative Party leader and member of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm, has pushed for tighter regulation.
“At the moment we’re probably the country with the most liberal gambling laws in the world,” he said.
The three-year “transitional period” was agreed to avoid potential law suits for breach of contract. The Betting and Gambling Council, which represents the industry, expressed that the “overwhelming” majority of the 22.5m people in the UK who bet each month do so “safely and responsibly”.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer also commented on the matter, noting that “the vast majority of adults gamble safely”, but also that “we have to recognise footballers are role models with enormous influence on young people.”
The Premier League is also working with other sports on the development of a code intended to promote “responsible” gambling sponsorship, while Grimes called for a more formal regulatory process to be instated. “Without government action on all forms of gambling ads in football, at every level, online casinos will exploit any voluntary measures and continue marketing their products through our national sport,” he said.