Everton Football Club, one of the two Premier League clubs that hail from the home of the Beatles, have just announced that they are finishing their shirt sponsorship deal with SportPesa.
Introduction: Everton Sponsorship Deal Over
SportPesa are an African sports betting company who are based out of Nairobi, Kenya. According to online sportsbook news in the UK, the original sponsorship deal was to run until the end of the 2022 season, both parties have agreed to end their relationship early. Though the reason, as stated below, is pretty obvious, the real question is what effect this will have on the Everton sponsorship possibilities as we go forwards.
Everton Sponsorship: Can’t Pay. Won’t Pay
The deal, which was signed in 2017, was for around £48 million or £9.6 million each year. And even though it was to run until 2022, Everton decided to pull the plug. They claim that this decision was after a “comprehensive review of the clubs commercial strategy and growth future plans”. Sounds like shorthand for bullshit to us. So now the club is millions of out of pocket and are scrabbling around to try and find a new shirt sponsor. The club has refused to provide more details or greater transparency with regard to the matter. Paint me surprised!
New Kenyan Betting Tax
A quick look at the news in Kenya and we can all see a clearer picture of what really went down. The sports betting operator SportPesa is a fairly large sports book company. It and has a presence in South Africa, Italy, UK, Tanzania and the Isle of Man. From 2016 -2019 you could see their logo on the shirt fronts of Hull City. Though no-one knows the real numbers, we can take a guess that the deal was worth between £1 million to £3 million. Back to today, and the Kenyan government in Nairobi recently decided to impose a new 20% excise tax on all betting stakes. As you can imagine, that’s gonna hurt. As a direct result, SportPesa stopped all operations in Kenya and let go all 453 of it’s employees there.
Football and Betting. What’s Not to Love
Well, that connection wasn’t that hard to discover. But sports betting and football are an open dirty little secret. Clubs love the money, but are also aware that betting companies have a bad name, especially in the UK. Hence the obtuse answers from Everton. The club joins around 10 others in the Premier League who also enjoy having sports betting companies as shirt sponsors. And it comes to some pretty large sums, with the total sponsorship across those clubs coming in at around £69 million in the current season. For example, West Ham get £6 million from Betway, Aston Villa get £5 million from Dafabet, Stoke City get £3 million from Bet365 Sportsbook and Watford receive £1.4 from 138.com. As you can see, these are small potatoes when you compare them with the Everton sponsorship deal.
Everton Sponsorship: Give Me The Cash
These Premier League clubs often play the victim and claim that, though they are aware of the issues and sensitivities that come hand in hand with the relationship between sports betting companies and football, they really have no other choice. Like kids in the playground, they point to other clubs and give the “well, they’re doing it” defense. They claim that they would be at a huge disadvantage if they didn’t take their thirty pieces of silver. Apparently, the next best sponsorship offer for them was worth £7 million less than the African deal.
UK Government Expected To Tighten Regulations
The Times newspaper claimed that back in January, the UK government made a determination to review the 2005 Gambling Act. There was talk about creating new advertising restrictions, which might include the complete banning of football shirt sponsorship. As you can imagine, this made the industry sit up and take note. Of course online sportsbook sites in the UK know it creates a better public optic to appear willing and ready to implement various bans yourself, rather than appear strong-armed by the government. To that end, many bookmakers spoke about how they were considering a voluntary ban on football shirt sponsorship and pitch-side adverting.
Stand Up and Be Counted
Interestingly enough, some companies actually followed through. Both Coral and Ladbrokes have withdrawn all football sponsorship. You can be sure that the move is hurting their bottom line. Simple because they are now calling for all bookmakers to follow suit. Just in case, you thought they were being magnanimous for a slip second. It’ll be interesting to see what Everton will do, now they find a huge hole in their budget.