Wednesday, 19 Jun 2024

The Importance of Front-of-Shirt Sponsorships in Football and How the Premier League’s Ban Will Impact the Clubs

fulham fc shirt sponsored by betfair

Gambling advertising in football has always been a topic of controversy. With the Premier League being one of the most-watched football competitions globally, it has become an attractive platform for gambling companies to gain brand exposure. However, the Premier League has recently made a significant decision to ban front-of-shirt sponsorship by gambling firms starting from the 2026/27 season, becoming the first UK sports league to do so.

The Aim of the Ban

ban ads sign

The ban on front-of-shirt sponsorship by gambling firms is an effort by the Premier League to reduce gambling advertising and its potential negative effects. There are concerns about the impact of gambling advertising on sports betting participation, which can lead to harmful consequences for individuals. According to the UK Government, an estimated 300,000 people in the UK are affected by problem gambling. With gambling logos appearing over 700 times in a single football match, it is understandable why the role of gambling advertising in football is being reviewed and debated.

The ban, however, only applies to the front of matchday shirts. Clubs are still allowed to have partnerships with gambling firms for their sleeves, training wear, and in-stadium and digital advertising. The limitations will come into effect at the end of the 2025/26 season after a three-season transition period.

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Historical Role of Gambling Firms in the Premier League

chart number premier league teams gambling front of shirt sponsor since 1992

The trend of gambling companies featuring on the front of matchday shirts in the Premier League has been growing over the past two decades. Fulham was the first Premier League team to have a gambling front-of-shirt sponsor when they partnered with in 2002. Back then, they were the only club with a betting partner on their kits. In the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/93, there were no gambling front-of-shirt sponsorships. The majority of teams had partnerships with electronics companies.

In recent years, the number of Premier League teams with gambling sponsors on their shirts has increased. Last season, eight teams had gambling logos on their shirtfronts. There have consistently been eight to ten gambling companies as main shirt sponsors in the Premier League between 2018/19 and 2022/23.

Introduction of Sleeve Sponsorships

sleeve betting sponsor

The introduction of sleeve sponsorships in the Premier League from the 2017/18 season onwards further increased the presence of gambling logos on club shirts. In the 2022/23 season, there were two gambling sleeve sponsors, bringing the total number of Premier League teams with gambling logos on their shirts to ten.

While front-of-shirt deals are more expensive, they provide higher visibility, and gambling companies consider them worth the extra investment. However, it is worth noting that gambling companies, alongside cryptocurrency and fast-food brands, are generally seen as inappropriate marketing partners by football fans.

Impact on Different Levels of Clubs

The presence of gambling partnerships varies among Premier League clubs. The traditional “Big Six” teams have a limited number of gambling sponsorships compared to middle and low table clubs. Bigger clubs often secure sponsorship deals with non-gambling firms that offer substantial financial rewards. On the other hand, middle and lower table teams tend to secure better financial terms with gambling firms than non-gambling companies.

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Ethical concerns also play a role in clubs’ decisions to partner with gambling companies. Some clubs, like Luton Town, deliberately avoid gambling sponsorships due to ethical beliefs and concerns about promoting excessive gambling behavior. However, financial rewards can outweigh ethical considerations for other clubs. Everton, for instance, replaced an online car retailer with a gambling company as their main shirt sponsor in 2022.

Support from Fans

integrity honesty ethics written on stacked wooden blocks

A study conducted amongst UK football fans in April 2023 revealed that 77 percent of fans support the ban on gambling sponsorships in football, while only eight percent oppose it. The study also showed that a majority of fans would support extending the ban to pitchside hoardings and implementing a ban on sleeve sponsorships by gambling companies. This demonstrates the significant public pressure to restrict gambling advertising in football.

Regulation in Other European Leagues

gambling sponsor on hertha berlin in bundesliga

The UK is not alone in facing concerns about gambling advertising in football. Several European countries and leagues have implemented or plan to implement restrictions on gambling advertising. Serie A in Italy faced a government-imposed ban on gambling advertising in 2019, and Spanish football clubs had to end all gambling sponsorship deals by the end of the 2020/21 season. Germany and France currently do not have complete bans on gambling sponsorships but have few shirt sponsors from gambling companies.

Financial Rewards and Risks

The financial rewards clubs receive from gambling partnerships vary based on factors such as the club’s size, popularity, and the nature of the partnership. The Big Six clubs generate significantly more from their front-of-shirt sponsorships compared to non-Big Six clubs. For example, Manchester City receives £45 million per year from their sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways.

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However, it is important to note that some clubs have faced criticism for their partnerships with dubious gambling brands. These brands often have operations in Asia and hold European gambling licenses but lack transparency in terms of ownership and business operations. Such partnerships have raised questions about clubs’ due diligence and focus on financial rewards over ethical considerations.


The ban on front-of-shirt gambling sponsorships in the Premier League marks a significant change in the sponsorship landscape. While the ban aims to reduce gambling advertising and its potential negative effects, clubs will still have opportunities for partnerships with gambling companies on their sleeves, training wear, and through in-stadium and digital advertising. The ban has received support from fans, who believe that gambling companies are inappropriate marketing partners for football clubs.

It remains to be seen how the ban will impact the Premier League’s sponsorship market, as new companies will replace gambling firms on matchday shirts. However, it is important to note that the ban’s limitations, such as the exclusion of pitchside hoardings and a transition period, may limit its overall effectiveness in reducing gambling advertising. Nonetheless, the ban represents a step towards addressing the ethical concerns surrounding gambling sponsorships in football.