FA breaks deal with Ladbrokes as sponsorships come under fire

FA breaks deal with Ladbrokes as sponsorships come under fire

The Football Association decide to prematurely sever a four-year, £4 million sponsorship deal with the Ladbrokes casino followed a board decision in May to distance itself from betting firms.

Football’s ruling body in the UK decided, after a months-long review, that it would be a conflict of interest to crack down on anti-gaming rules for players and coaches while simultaneously making millions in promotion of the online bettors.

The decision followed an uproar over complaints of hypocrisy by Joey Barton that the FA was inconsistent in enforcing sanctions against footballers while overlooking its own big business with betting firms. Football’s ruling body claims that its reconsideration of the Ladbrokes deal and anti-gambling policy had begun long before the midfielder’s case was settled in April.

The FA had accused Barton, most recently at Burnley, with making over 1200 wagers on football, including more than two dozen involving fixtures of his own clubs. Barton didn’t deny the gist of the claims, but said he never bet against his own mates. With an 18 month ban from the game lodged against him, the charges may have ended his long career.

He joins Jack Colback of Newcastle and Martin Demichelis of Man City, who were also sanctioned for betting on football.

But while individual players are paying a heavy price for their wagers, clubs are doing big business with the betting industry. In the season past, most Premier League teams accepted shirt sponsorships with online casinos, with total revenues in the neighborhood of £36 million. Sky Bet went so far as being picked as title sponsor of the league’s championship.

Many clubs are totally dependent on the financial largesse of wagering outfits. Sunderland and West Ham each raked in more than £6 million apiece last season from online betting sponsors.

Every Premier League club is thought to have commercial ties of some type with one or more online betting concerns. Premium betting brands tend to hold out for the largest clubs, with the broadest fan base. After years on the sidelines, William Hill re-joined the sponsorship sweepstakes, inking deals with Everton, Chelsea, and Tottenham. Both smaller and larger clubs also cultivate commercial relations with previously unheard-of overseas casinos which provide millions in cash but are not betting draws to local fans.

The betting firms clearly believe that the large sums they pay for sponsorships deliver potent pop for their pounds. Online football wagering accounts for more than £400 billion in annual revenues in the UK alone and an additional £200 billion across the globe. In particular, mobile sportsbetting, thanks to its on-the-go convenience is a growing market, with sportsbooks investing in dedicated apps with live-streamed matches, such as in the Betway App.

Ladbrokes may no longer be a sponsor the FA, but online betting is most assuredly here to stay.