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Italian FA wants government betting sponsorship ban lifted to boost club finances

National soccer body sets out proposals for new revenue opportunities.

3 August 2021 Ed Dixon
  • Italy currently has a blanket ban on gambling-related sponsorships and advertising partnerships domestically
  • FIGC wants regulations lifted for at least two years 
  • Other proposals include ‘Football Savings Fund’ and tax relief 

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) is pushing for the country’s betting and advertising ban to be temporarily lifted in order to open up more revenue streams for soccer teams counting the financial cost of Covid-19.

Since being implemented in 2019, Italian government regulations have maintained a blanket ban on all gambling-related sponsorships and advertising partnerships for Italian sports organisations domestically. However, they are free to do deals covering overseas markets. An example of this is soccer giants Juventus’ contract with 10Bet, the club’s official gaming and betting partner.

Even so, professional sports teams across Italy have been left struggling to recoup lost earnings brought on by the pandemic. This has been particularly apparent in Serie A, the top tier of Italian soccer.

In May, league champions Inter Milan took out a loan reportedly worth €275 million (US$327 million) with US-based Oaktree Capital Management to support the club’s finances, while Juventus recently confirmed a capital raise of up to €400 million (US$476 million). The latter is also bracing itself for a record €185 million (US$220 million) loss for 2020/21, according to OffThePitch.

An amendment to the gambling sponsorship ban would likely ensure fresh income for teams, though the Italian government has already set out plans for further restrictions. This would see the number of gambling licences in the country reduced from 85 to 50 by 2023. 

Commenting on the ban, FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said: “We are at a crossroads; we must act quickly to prevent the professional football crisis from obliging the clubs to block their activity, thus bringing the entire sports sector to its knees, the companies of the 12 product sectors connected to it and the entire country system, with an undesirable decrease in direct and indirect tax contributions.

“We did not ask the government for refreshments, rather to recognise the socio-economic importance that football has through the adoption of some urgent measures to relieve the clubs from the crisis generated by Covid-19. Football can play a decisive role in Italy’s overall recovery.”

The FIGC is proposing the ban be lifted for a minimum of two years until 30th June 2023. The organisation also wants to see the creation of a ‘Football Savings Fund’, which would also be in place until the same date. This would allow for one per cent of all online and in-person sports bets in Italy to be sent to a national fund, which would be managed by the FIGC and used to support soccer projects across the country.

Further measures laid out by the FIGC include tax and contribution relief caveats, facilitated access to measures supporting the liquidity of sports clubs and ‘dedicated procedures’ for the installation payments and conciliation of soccer club’s tax debts with the Italian Revenue Agency.

The proposals have been sent to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the representatives of the Departments of Economy and Finance, Health and Economic Development, as well as the Undersecretary for Sport.

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