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Premier League clubs’ other sponsorship assets to see value increase after front-of-shirt betting ban

Scarcity will drive up sleeve, training kit and LED advertising boards inventory fees, according to Turnstile.

17 April 2023 Ed Dixon

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The decision by Premier League clubs to ban gambling sponsorship from the front of matchday shirts will see betting brands turn their attention to other available inventory and result in an uptick in value for those assets, according to sponsorship valuation platform Turnstile.

English top-flight soccer teams collectively agreed to the ban last week after discussions with the Premier League and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The new arrangement will kick in from the end of the 2025/26 campaign.

According to The Times, Premier League clubs could see income cut by between UK£5 million (US$6.2 million) and UK£10 million (US$12.4 million) per season. However, Turnstile general manager Dan Gaunt says that clubs will be able to demand more for what are now seen as secondary assets.

“We anticipate that the front-of-shirt betting sponsorship ban will drive up the value of other key sponsorship assets such as the sleeve, training kit and LED advertising boards,” Gaunt told SportsPro.

“With a reduced number of premium assets available there will no doubt be increased competitive tension for the assets that are still on offer and this is proven to increase the overall deal value.

“The opposite could be said for front of shirt deal value, although the impact of this will likely only be felt in the smaller clubs which have traditionally been more dependent on the betting category.

“If we look across the entire league, we’d expect to see some convergence between front of shirt and sleeve deal values, particularly towards the lower end of the table.”

Gaunt expects betting firms to be “concerned” by the ban, given the brand exposure afforded by the Premier League.

“The front of shirt sponsorship is also a great asset for demonstrating a strong association with a club, which is a powerful tool for legitimising betting companies in the eyes of the consumer,” he added.

That said, according to Gaunt, sleeve sponsorship delivers “circa 60 per cent” of the on-screen time comparted to front of shirt, making it a viable alternative for gambling companies. The same also goes for LED advertising.

“If a brand buys around nine minutes of time on the LED perimeter boards then they will achieve a similar amount of on-screen time to the front of shirt, but with the added advantage of being able to serve a more detailed creative message to those watching at home and in the stadium,” explained Gaunt.

Gaunt believes teams have made the right call amid mounting pressure to tackle the prevalence of betting in English soccer and that it will ultimately drive “creativity and innovation” and see teams move away from relying on the gambling sector as a “cash cow”.

“If they don’t make the changes themselves then it is highly likely that the change will be forced upon them anyway over time,” he continued.

“By being proactive it enables the clubs to better control the change, and by doing so reduce the commercial impact. Commercials aside, this absolutely feels like the right move from a corporate social responsibility perspective.”

Eight top-tier teams – Bournemouth, Brentford, Everton, Fulham, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Southampton and West Ham United – currently have deals with betting brands, with The Athletic pegging their collective value at UK£60 million (US$74.3 million) annually.

Premier League clubs will be allowed to secure new gambling sponsorship for the front of shirts until the ban starts, while current betting partnerships can remain in place for the next three years.

In terms of the commercial hit for clubs, Gaunt anticipates sides caught up in the relegation battle – Bournemouth, Everton, Leeds, Southampton and West Ham are either in or hovering around the bottom three – to feel the greatest impact.

That uncertainty makes it more difficult to sign lucrative front-of-shirt sponsorships. Betting pacts have existed as a fast, effective way for teams to bring in revenue. One example are Southampton who swiftly agreed a deal with Sportsbet.io in August 2020 after cancelling their arrangement with main sponsor LD Sports ahead of that season.

“Banning a major sponsorship category from buying your primary sponsorship asset is bound to have a commercial impact, particularly in the short term”, said Gaunt.

“That said, the clubs have time to prepare for this and our sense is that the change will drive creativity and innovation rather than relying on the cash cow that has been the betting industry.”

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