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EFL and Sky Bet agree record ‘UK£73m’ title sponsorship extension

New five-year deal comes amid UK government scrutiny on betting deals in sport.

7 June 2023 PA

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The English Football League (EFL) has agreed a new five-year deal with its title sponsor Sky Bet.

Campaigners had called on the British government to ban gambling sponsorship in UK sport as part of its review of the Gambling Act, but a whitepaper published in April instead called on the sector to draw up its own “robust” code for socially-responsible betting sponsorship.

The new deal, which runs until 2029, represents a 50 per cent increase in fee from Sky Bet and will also see UK£6 million (US47.47 million) added to a community fund across the course of the contract to support projects in the areas around the 72 clubs in English soccer’s bottom three professional tiers. According to the Daily Mail, the agreement is worth up to UK£73 million (US$91.6 million) over its five-year term and is now the largest title sponsorship deal in UK sport. 

As with the previous agreement, there is a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the EFL and Sky Bet on social responsibility.

This includes a commitment that Sky Bet will not actively market itself or its products in family areas of club stadia, or advertise to young fans, for the EFL to promote safer gambling messaging and support the company’s safer gambling campaigns.

Sky Bet will also fund a player education programme across the EFL’s clubs that will focus on the potential dangers of gambling, as well as providing support and advice.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney was banned for eight months in May after admitting 232 breaches of the betting rules put in place by English soccer’s governing Football Association (FA). The ban would have been significantly longer, according to the published written reasons in the case, but for Toney’s diagnosis with a gambling addiction.

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “For over a decade, Sky Bet has been a valuable partner for EFL clubs, offering sustained investment to help clubs navigate a volatile financial landscape and ensure fans can enjoy fantastic footballing entertainment in every corner of the country.

“We have consistently seen our partnership evolve to move with the times and with community at the heart of the EFL, a new community investment fund is perfectly aligned and will help strengthen the partnership’s commitment to social responsibility.

“The government’s recent gambling whitepaper highlighted the social responsibility measures that have accompanied our partnership with Sky Bet as being an example of good practice for the wider sports sector to learn from and we will look to deepen our commitment to the promotion of safer gambling as part of this extension.”

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