The Evolution of football shirt sponsorships

Angry Birds, Tinder, Betway – sounds like a list of apps on your iPhone; when these are just in fact some of the latest shirt sponsors in Football.

As a Liverpool fan – I grew up seeing Crown Paints, Candy & Carlsberg on LFC kits – there were no such thing as shirt sponsors, and there were barely any betting or casino ads in or around the ground.  Barcelona went years without a shirt sponsor before adding UNICEF to their shirts, while today, most teams have an official ‘betting partner’, while betting & casino companies dominate the world of football sponsorship.
For years Barcelona didn’t have a shirt sponsor
Crystal Palace, Everton, West Ham, Newcastle, Swansea, Stoke, and Huddersfield all have betting, casino or igaming brands on their shirts; as these companies look to take advantage of the huge global reach that English football has.
As online casinos increase their influence in football through sponsorship, more and more people begin to notice the brand, and meaning that they’re exposed to more potential customers than ever before.
It’s essentially a win-win for clubs and sponsors – the clubs get a bit more money added to their transfer or wage budget, while the casinos/betting companies get exposure like never before – it is estimated that each televised game is watched by 12million people globally, while if you’re a team’s main shirt sponsor, there’s literally thousands of walking adverts at every match. Man Utd’s main sponsor Chevrolet pay £47million every year, and with their reach it’s surprising that there isn’t a casino brand on their shirts already.
Back in 2002 – only one Premiership side had any sort of betting sponsorship on their kit (Fulham partnered with Betfair), while now 45% of teams have a casino or betting sponsor on their kit. Everton’s deal with SportsPesa is estimated to be worth £48million over 5 years – with most clubs now doing transfer deals in instalments, that can pay for a big name signing (Sigurdsson cost Everton £45million from Swansea), so why not put an igaming or casino brand on your shirt?
In a somewhat surprising turn, Wolves are now sponsored by a Cryptocurrency exchange, is this where sponsorship is heading? Given that the FA broke ties with Ladbrokes following criticism of their FA Cup Sponsorship, could we see a ban in future on casino/igaming companies sponsoring football teams, and instead new industries like Crypto taking over?
Gone are the days when fridge freezer manufacturers sponsored football.

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