The relationship between football and sports betting was dealt another tough blow earlier this summer when the Football Association abruptly ended its sponsorship deal with Ladbrokes.
The decision to end the £4 million-per-year deal was taken after the FA chairman, Greg Clarke, concluded that Ladbrokes’ gambling operations clashed with the ‘clean’ image that the FA was trying to promote.
Clarke initiated the three-month review of using betting providers as sponsors as a result of growing criticism from inside and outside the game that such deals were evidence of clear double standards.
This matter was made all the more pressing after the events in April that saw the Burnley player, Joey Barton, banned for eighteen months as a result of engaging in sports betting activities.
Such a career-damaging move was swiftly countered by Barton who raised objections about how the FA is essentially being funded by the companies who led to his ban from the game.
As a result, the FA have sought to level the playing field. As well as the pre-existing blanket ban on players betting on matches, the FA will no longer able to engage in sponsorship deals with companies who are engaging in the betting realm.
This decision will have been met with concern by Ladbrokes who now must find alternative methods for boosting their brand visibility in the UK.
The company merged with Coral in 2015 to become one of the market leaders in sports betting, and it seems that they may have to now rely upon revenues from casino gaming in order to consolidate their position in the market.
The company have already faced tough competition as a result of gamers seeking to use the roulette tips at online roulette rather than spending their money in Ladbrokes’ high street betting shops.
And the fact that the Football Association pulled out of their four-year sponsorship deal with Ladbrokes after just a single year will have meant that the FA will be facing a sudden shortfall in operational funds.
Whilst larger clubs in the Premier League won’t probably won’t feel the effects of this decision, it’s how smaller non-league clubs are able to cope without the trickling down of sponsorship revenues that will be of greatest concern.
Small clubs like Leyton Orient have faced a tough financial future in the lower leagues, and with the options for raising money becoming even more limited, it seems that a radical overhaul of how clubs are funded may be necessary.
It still remains to be seen how this legislation could be furthered in terms of allowing betting companies to be sponsors on club shirts.
There were eleven gambling firms on the shirts of Premier League clubs last season, and it seemed as though this sponsorship trend would continue in the future.
But with the FA making the shock decision to cancel their deal with Ladbrokes, it seems as though the relationship between gambling and football is becoming increasingly hard to predict.