All of the evidence suggests that football is turning its back on the gambling industry, and Bolton Wanderers are the latest to make a move away from betting.
They will become the first English club to ban all betting provision, which will include the closure of bookmakers’ kiosks at the University of Bolton Stadium and a commitment to signing no new sponsorship deals with gambling operators.
The club’s chairperson, Sharon Brittan, said:
“We as an industry must do more and through our work with Bolton Wanderers in the Community, Bolton Wanderers Football Club will support outreach programmes for those who experience gambling problems.”
It’s a brave move on the part of the Trotters, who like many lower league clubs are struggling to make ends meet as finances become strained. Betting revenue is a handy source of income for many English outfits, and the sheer number of those with gambling firms as sponsors on their shirts and on advertising hoardings reveals the amounts they are willing to spend to enjoy prime position in the beautiful game.
Bolton’s chief executive, Neil Hart, has revealed that the stance has been ‘received very positively’ by the club’s fans, and commented:
“We are not saying to supporters don’t bet, but we aren’t going to provide you with that opportunity within the stadium and it’s something we believed in.
“We just felt, with the saturation of betting advertising around football, we didn’t need to be part of that.”
Hart also believes that football clubs don’t need betting firms on board to achieve commercial gains, declaring that he will ‘work very hard to bring in the right partners for us that provide longevity and good levels of revenue.’
New Data Reveals Sponsorship Quandary
While gambling sponsorships are less of a problem in League One, where Bolton currently ply their trade, in the Premier League they are rampant.
Of the 20 top-flight sides, nine are sponsored by a betting firm based in the UK or overseas, while a tenth – Leicester City – wear the branding of FBS on their shirt, a trading broker in forex, stocks and more….a sector some liken to gambling.
It is going to take a considerable sea-change to convince those clubs to cut all ties with their betting partners, and particularly when you consider the huge amounts of revenue that they bring in.
According to new data published by Statista, around a third of the average Premier League club’s profit comes via sponsorship and commercial partnerships, while around 10% is drawn from matchday takings – which includes betting revenue from the stadium concourse.
While voluntary change is available to all, it might actually take a regulatory reform on the part of the UK government, the Football Association or the Premier League in order for betting sponsorships to be banned in the beautiful game.
In Spain, that’s a step that the government has already taken. The move is estimated to have cost La Liga clubs around €90 million in revenue, and left six clubs – including Real Sociedad and Granada – scrabbling around for a new shirt sponsor in the weeks leading up to the 2021/22 campaign.
La Liga president Javier Tebas labelled the decision ‘a mistake’, but the Spanish government has pointed to the success a similar ban has had on Italian sport.