The Premier League has announced that its member football clubs have collectively agreed to withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of clubs’ matchday shirts, becoming the first sports league in the UK to take such a measure voluntarily in order to reduce gambling advertising.
The announcement follows an extensive consultation involving the Premier League, its clubs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the UK government’s ongoing review of current gambling legislation. The government was not expected to propose banning gambling sponsorship; the plan was for the Premier League to agree voluntarily to a change. The Premier League has also said that a self-regulatory model is more flexible than legislation.
The Premier League says that it is also working with other sports on the development of a new code for responsible gambling sponsorship.
A transition period will be in place to help clubs move away from shirt-front gambling sponsorship and so the collective agreement will begin at the end of the 2025/26 season.
The new rules only apply to match day shirts, so clubs will still be able to continue featuring gambling brands in areas such as shirt sleeves and LED advertising. They will also be able to enter into new deals for their match day shirts before the deadline. It is also not clear how the new rules will apply to clubs being promoted to the Premier League who may already have gambling sponsorship deals in place and do not benefit from the revenue flowing from TV coverage rights before being promoted.
According to the Times, the Gambling White Paper is due next month.
It remains to be seen whether other football leagues will follow suit, but the smart money is on them following suit, eventually.
In the meantime, I would bet that gambling brands will switch their focus and resources (while they can) to sponsor lower leagues that are even more keen for sponsorship revenues, as well as other off-shirt sponsorship and promotional opportunities across all leagues.