Premier League clubs ditch front-of-shirt gambling sponsors

Anti-gambling campaigners have said the decision to ban front-of-shirt sponsorships while still allowing these ads to appear elsewhere is “incoherent”.

Source: Shutterstock

Premier League football clubs have agreed to ban gambling brands from the front of matchday shirts, following consultations with the government.

Clubs will still be allowed to have gambling sponsors on their shirt sleeves, and the new rules will not affect pitch-side advertising.

Eight of the 20 clubs in the Premier League currently have gambling sponsors. For example, West Ham is sponsored by Betway, Everton is sponsored by and Brentford is sponsored by Hollywood Bets.

These clubs will have some time to secure new shirt sponsors, as the rules will not come into force until the end of the 2025/26 season. Until then clubs will be allowed to continue with and sign new front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with gambling brands.

These kinds of ads are estimated to be worth around £60m to Premier League clubs each year.

The new rules on gambling sponsorship comes ahead of the publication of a report by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) looking into current gambling legislation.

The department’s minister, Lucy Frazer, welcomed the move by the Premier League in a tweet today (13 April), while pledging the upcoming white paper would “upgrade punter protections and do more to protect those at risk of addiction”.

It is expected that the white paper will not look to implement legislation on gambling sponsorship, following talks between the Premier League, its clubs and the government to introduce voluntary measures.

Gambling brands banned from using sports stars in ads

The Premier League is the first sports league in the UK to voluntarily undertake measures to reduce gambling advertising. In a statement, it said it is working with other sports on the development of a new code for responsible gambling sponsorship.

Anti-gambling advertising campaigners have welcomed today’s announcement, praising it as an important step while calling for more to be done.

“No gambling ads are seen more than those on Premier League shirts, worn by billions around the world,” says campaign group The Big Step founder James Grimes.

Grimes flags that just over three years ago there were almost 30 clubs in the top two English football divisions with gambling brands as front-of-shirt sponsors. Today’s announcement is an important step in getting that figure down to zero, he says. But he calls the new rules “incoherent” given gambling brands can still appear on other parts of kits and on pitch-side advertising.

He is calling on the government to take action on the issue and not leave it up to solely voluntary measures.

“Without government action on all forms of gambling ads in football, at every level, online casinos will exploit any voluntary measures and continue to market their products through our national sport,” Grimes says.