Online betting industry starts investing heavily in European football

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The top five soccer leagues in Europe, namely the English Premier League, the Spanish LaLiga, the Italian Serie A, the French Ligue 1 and the German Bundesliga, have produced between them revenues worth 15.2 billion euros during the 2015/2016 season. Compared to the 1996/1997 season, the top five leagues in Europe produced more than six times in revenues last season, they had just below 2.5 billion euros ten years ago. Most of that increase came thanks to bigger prices for television broadcasting rights as more and more people from all over the world want to watch the matches every week. Sponsorship deals have also increased significantly, with companies from various fields, including the online betting and gambling industry, becoming increasingly interested in promoting their brands on the shirts of Europe's best soccer teams.

Premier League, a cut above the rest

The English Premier League has produced the biggest revenue increase among all the top five European leagues, they went from 0.6 billion euros in 1996/1997 to a staggering 5.83 billion last season. That figure is likely to increase again in the 2016-2017 season as there is a new TV rights deal in place, worth around 10 million pounds per game, plus most sponsorship deals have also increased in value. Ten of the twenty Premier League clubs have companies in the betting and gambling industry as their main shirt sponsor this season, but all clubs have various kinds of deals with betting companies. Last season only seven Premier League teams had betting companies as their main shirt sponsor.

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The worth of the sponsorship deals has increased as well. Dafabet, who are sponsoring Premier League outfit Sunderland, are now paying 6 million pounds per year, compared to 5 million per annum last season. Moreover, there are betting companies that have become the main sponsor of two Premier League clubs at the same time: Dafabet have their logo on the shirts both at Sunderland and Burnley, while Mansion.com sponsor both Crystal Palace and Bournemouth. However, none of the betting companies managed to sign shirt sponsorship deals with the biggest clubs in the league. Manchester United get 53 million pounds from automobile brand Chevrolet, while the biggest sponsorship deal involving a betting company is worth just over 6 million pounds, paid by Betway to West Ham United. Even if the value of the contract is small compared to the sponsorship deals the big clubs have, the deal that West Ham struck with Betway was their largest ever commercial deal. The contract was signed in 2015, a three-year deal worth 20 million pounds.

Shirts first, stadium names coming up

Bet365 have taken their efforts to the next step: after becoming the main shirt sponsor for Stoke City in 2012, now the online betting company has bought the naming rights for the Britannia Stadium, where the Potters play their home games. The arena is now called the Bet365 Stadium and the company will spend some money to improve the stadium capacity to more than 30,000 seats.

Other Premier League clubs have more sophisticated deals with betting companies. Liverpool have been the first club in the English top-flight to sign sponsorship deals segmented by territory. Now Arsenal have signed a new contract with online betting company Betfair as their official betting partner, but only in Europe (the UK, Ireland, Italy and Russia excluded). That left the door open for the club to sign more deals for the remaining territories, including the expanding market in Asia.

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Overall, the Premier League clubs will receive 226 million pounds from their shirt sponsors this season, which is by far the biggest amount among the European leagues. The German Bundesliga is in second place in this ranking, but with less than half that the Premier League revenues: 101 million pounds from their shirt sponsors.

Less money outside England

Only one of the eighteen Bundesliga clubs has a betting company as their main shirt sponsor, Hertha Berlin have a deal worth 6 million euros per year with bet-at-home. The company also have a deal with Schalke 04 as they became their official betting partner since 2011. Reigning champions Bayern Munich have the best shirt sponsorship deal in the league, they receive 35 million euros per year from telecommunications giant Telekom.

The situation is quite different in the Italian Serie A, where five teams have not managed to recruit a main shirt sponsor for this season. No companies in the betting industry have been interested in becoming the main sponsor of an Italian team this season, but several betting companies have partnerships with Serie A outfits.

We have a similar situation in France, where none of the top-flight clubs display logos of betting companies on their shirts. In Spain, only one of the twenty clubs in LaLiga has been able to attract a main sponsor from the betting industry: last summer Malaga have signed a two-year sponsorship deal with Marathonbet. There is an option to extend the contract into the third year, depending on how things develop until then. However, there are plenty of other online betting companies that are involved with Spanish clubs, but none of them have been able to retain their status as main shirt sponsors.

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Real Madrid agreed a deal with Bwin back in 2007, with the betting company becoming their main sponsor. Now that space on the Blancos shirt was taken by wealthy airline company FlyEmirates, but Bwin is still in a partnership with Real Madrid as their official betting and gaming partner. Bwin also have a deal with Italian champions Juventus and a partnership with Premier League club Manchester United.

The betting industry has invested around 100 million euros in sports sponsorships this year in the UK alone, and 80 million euros went into football. The increase compared to previous years is quite significant, considering that betting companies had spent 70 million euros on all UK sports sponsorships in 2013. The betting market is becoming more and more competitive, companies will keep fighting for a slice of that market, and promoting their business through football is one of the best ways to get customers. That said, we will probably see betting companies spending more and more money on football sponsorships in the coming year, especially in the two leagues that are attracting the biggest number of international fans: Premier League and LaLiga.

Sources:

Statista.com, Revenue of the biggest European soccer leagues from 1996/97 to 2015/16

Nielsensports.com, No gamble: the betting sponsorship marketplace

Mishcon.com, Betting Brands Raise Premier League Profile, Jay Stuart, August 17, 2015

Members Comments

  • Bulgaria sharpe

    18/2/17

    Quite interesting numbers Johnny, I don't think it's a news that the gambling industry is interested in investing in European top football leagues, bookies becoming really powerful these days thanks to their huge profits.
    It's even redicilous to talk about top 5 of the best Leagues because the PL is like another world compared to the other top leagues when really just couple of teams get worldwide attention. The problem is that management of these leagues don't care too much about a honest competition between all the clubs in these respective leagues and the top sides being pushed to dominate one way or another.
    Italian and German leagues are great examples of that with the domination of just one team and Juventus and Bayern Munhen are one their way for their 7 and 6 straight title respectively, so what competition?!
    How this leagues will get the global attention?
    I think the way is only one, Pl model, all the top flight teams should start getting money from theTV rights accordingly and even smaller teams get what they deserved after that they could have more spare funds, buying a better players which will increase the competition in those leagues and that's how brands being created because the football clubs are exactly that for the sponsors - partner brands.
    It's not much different in France and Spain where not more than couple of teams could realistically fight for the title every season, is that what they want? well they have it.
    I don't think being a champion in a league when just one or none of the other teams have an adequate to yours budget and the rest like 100 times lower is too much of achievement.
    That's why the PL is number one in any aspect, because the management there is carring about the competition and this what the sport is all about really, it's just too easy to be a Juventus, Bayern, Real, Barca or PSG fan these days not only the richest but whole governments sitting behind your back, I don't see too much pride of winning such league.


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