The Premier League revealed Thursday it would no longer allow clubs to partner with gambling companies for its front-of-shirt sponsorships. The league is the first in the UK to adopt the measure, with the ban slated to take effect after the 2025-26 season.
“The announcement follows an extensive consultation involving the League, its clubs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s ongoing review of current gambling legislation,” the league said in a statement.
In December 2020, the UK government launched a review of the 2005 Gambling Act with results expected over the next month. It is understood that EPL clubs went along with the shirt sponsor removal to ward off a complete ban of gambling sponsorships. Gambling companies can continue to advertise at stadiums, as well as have their logos on gameday shirt sleeves.
Eight Premier League clubs currently have gambling sponsors for their jerseys—Bournemouth, Brentford, Everton, Fulham, Leeds, Newcastle, Southampton and West Ham —and the deals are worth an estimated total of $70 million this season, based on research from Sportico’s Premier League team valuations. None of the Big Six teams—including Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City—have a gambling sponsor for the front of their jerseys. The top clubs typically command at least $50 million annually each for those sponsorships.
“While the vast majority of adults enjoy gambling without harm, we can’t ignore the fact footballers are massive role models to kids,” Lucy Frazer, Britain’s culture secretary, posted on Twitter. “Our upcoming Gambling White Paper will upgrade punter protections & do more to protect those at risk of addiction.”
Gambling companies have increasingly used the world’s most-watched soccer league to advertise their brands since the 2005 UK law loosened restrictions on gambling companies. By 2016, half the Premier League’s 20 clubs had gambling firms for their shirt sponsor.
The Premier League is the first major soccer league to enact a ban, but Serie A and LaLiga teams have not been able to sign gambling companies as shirt sponsors due to government restrictions imposed in recent years. The EPL said it would work with other sports on the “development of a new code for responsible gambling sponsorship.”
While Europe has put restrictions on gambling sponsorships, U.S. sports leagues have increasingly embraced those partnerships in recent years. The Washington Capitals were the first NHL team to announce a jersey patch deal with a betting operator in Caesars Sportsbook. The Vegas Golden Knights (Circa Las Vegas) and Arizona Coyotes (Gila River Resorts & Casinos) have since added gambling jersey sponsors as well.
The NBA and MLB still do not allow gambling sponsorships as part of their jersey logo programs.