The Premier League calls on clubs to support the phasing out of T-shirt sponsorship by gambling companies in a last-ditch effort to avoid a government-imposed ban.
News from heaven learned that the Premier League reached out to clubs on Monday to propose a resolution that would see betting companies disappear from teams’ shirts within the next three years.
Under the proposal, a voluntary ban would take effect at the start of the new season, but would allow existing agreements to run their course, provided they expire no later than the 2024-25 season.
Communication with the top 20 clubs represents the Premier League’s most concerted effort to address an issue that has attracted intense political scrutiny in recent weeks.
Under Premier League rules, support for the proposal from at least 14 clubs would see it adopted immediately. A club executive said he had been given a few days to respond.
News from heaven reported late last week that the Premier League had suggested to the government that branding on jersey sleeves should continue indefinitely, though it was unclear whether that idea was part of Monday’s communication with the clubs.
An executive from another club said the Premier League had indicated that the betting sponsorship ban was intended to be permanent, but would be subject to a clause allowing it to be canceled with two years’ notice in certain circumstances. .
Perimeter advertising by gaming companies would continue to be allowed, according to one of the recipients of the proposal.
This is a sensitive issue for the biggest clubs in English football, as many of them have become addicted to the revenue from the gambling sector.
Nearly half of the Premier League clubs, including Newcastle United and West Ham, were sponsored by betting companies last season, though the Magpies are likely to secure a replacement for Fun88 after next season.
Last season’s other jersey sponsors included SpreadEx Sport at West Ham, Hollywood Bet at Brentford and Sportsbet.io at Southampton.
Times reported last week that ministers had abandoned plans to legislate to ban the names of betting groups from appearing on soccer jerseys and were instead seeking a voluntary settlement with clubs.
The Premier League is said to have told clubs on Monday it believed it was inaccurate and that the government would demand a legislative ban unless a voluntary agreement was reached.
A Whitehall source said there has been intense discussion over the terms of the voluntary agreement in recent days. This suggests that ministers would support a deal if approved by the required majority of clubs.
A football financial analyst suggested that the big six clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – should support a voluntary ban, since none of them had T-shirt sponsorship deals with gaming companies. of gambling.
However, the Premier League proposal, if accepted, would anger anti-gambling activists, as it would not activate an immediate and complete ban on the gambling industry by maintaining a presence in stadiums and on jerseys competing in the tournament. most watched national football team in the world.
A broader package of game reforms is expected to be unveiled in a white paper in the coming weeks.
A DCMS spokesperson declined to comment on the Premier League proposal, but said last week, “We are embarking on the most comprehensive overhaul of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for the digital age. White paper as part of a review of gambling legislation in the coming weeks. “
The Premier League declined to comment.