Gambling continues to be the most prevalent front-of-shirt sponsor in football despite incoming regulations that will ban gambling companies from advertising on football shirts.
When the new Premier League football season kicks off this weekend, one one-third (seven) of clubs will have a gambling brand on the front of their shirts, just one fewer than at this same time last year, according to an analysis of sponsorship by partnerships agency Caytoo. This despite Premier League clubs agreeing to drop gambling companies from the front of shirts following the end of the 2025-26 season.
Caytoo estimate that the money lost by the seven clubs who still have a gambling sponsor would be around £35-50m a year – and point to the EFL (the governing body of the rest of the football league), which is sponsored by Sky Bet, which has already come out and said a ban would cost its clubs in the region of £40m a year.
Premier League clubs ditch front-of-shirt gambling sponsorsAlex Burmaster, head of research and analysis at Caytoo, accepts that “not all” football clubs will be doing enough to prepare themselves for the new reality about to face them. “Some, of course, will be doing so studiously but in our experience, the majority tend to leave things a bit later than they should when trying to find sponsors for large-ticket items,” he told Marketing Week. “Although in this case, the date has been set so far in advance there really will be no excuse.”
The research, which looked at 225 clubs across football, rugby union, rugby league and cricket (both men’s and women’s variants) showed that industrial companies (manufacturing, engineering, construction) are the most prevalent front-of-shirt sponsor accounting for 14.5% (or 1 in every 7) of sponsors. This is a 10% increase over last year and a 60% increase over the last four years.
Industrial, however, is only the most common sector in cricket and rugby – with football still led by consumer services due mainly to that sector comprising of gambling firms.
‘No magic bullet’ for gambling advertising regulation, experts sayThe most prevalent sectors across all sports included customer services (12.7%), travel and tourism (9.1%), professional services (8.6%) and retail/ecommerce (8.2%). While popular sub-sectors included gambling (9.1%), manufacturing/engineering (6.8%), construction (6.4%), auto retail (4.5%) and logistics (4.5%).
The travel and tourism and food and drink sectors saw the largest increase in the number of new deals over the last with both increasing by 4 while the automotive sector saw the biggest drop in deals falling by 7.
The research also looked into the difference between men’s and women’s sport and found that travel and tourism was the most prolific sponsor of women’s teams accounting for 15.8% of deals. It also found that automotive severely reduced the number of deals it had with women’s sports team going from 5 to just 1 in Worcester Warriors women.
Information technology is the most concentrated sector for supporting women’s sport with 57% of its deal being for women while five sectors – real estate, utilities, health and wellbeing, education and telecoms – allocate all of their activity to men’s teams and none to women’s.
Caytoo believes the findings show women’s sport is receiving “more exposure and goodwill than ever before” but believe work is still to be done in translating this “beyond signature global events down to domestic teams”.