Sky Bet has extended its multi-million pound sponsorship deal with the English Football League until the summer of 2024.The gambling operation is the headline sponsor for the Championship, League One and League Two football divisions.It gets its logo on shirts, and rights for “Bet and Watch” for some matches.Sky Bet says it will try to discourage problem gambling through messaging on shirts, and that clubs will benefit through more money.The deal, which is worth tens of millions of pounds, has been in place since 2013.Sky Bet said it would be paying 20% more than it has done so far to extend the agreement from 2019 to 2024.This will make the 11-year deal one of the longest in professional sport, the firm said.The Leeds-based operation, which includes sites such as Sky Vegas and Sky Bingo, is owned by private equity group CVC Capital Partners . Broadcaster Sky holds a 20% stake in the firm.
The betting industry has been under increasing scrutiny from the government, and from the regulator, the Gambling Commission.Earlier this year the Football Association, English football’s governing body, announced it would end sponsorship deals with gambling firms.However, competition organisers, and the clubs themselves, are free to take sponsorship from gambling firms. The money from the Sky Bet deal will be divided among the 72 clubs in the English Football League, which covers the three divisions below the Premier League.The chief executive of Sky Bet, Richard Flint told the BBC’s Wake up to Money podcast that the English Football League used the revenue generated to help them run their day-to-day operations.He said: “Without sponsorship from the betting industry there aren’t a great number of sponsors willing to get involved in football.”Problem gamblingHowever, there are fears that increasing numbers of young fans are being exposed to gambling adverts.One of the findings of the BBC’s annual Price of Football survey was that more young football fans bet on games than play the sport.About 95% of TV ad breaks in live football matches feature at least one gambling advert, the BBC found in October.In some matches, 40% of the adverts were for gambling.Mr Flint told the BBC that Sky Bet and the English Football League were actively promoting awareness about problem gambling as part of the “When the fun stops. Stop” campaign.”From the play offs and including next season every shirt will have a responsible gambling message on the shirt sleeve and we’re tying that into a responsible gambling campaign starting today, which includes a TV advert and perimeter boards at EFL games,” he saidThe “When the fun stops. Stop” campaign is orchestrated by the Senet Group, which was established in 2014 by some of Britain’s leading bookmakers in response to public concerns about gambling and gambling addiction.The head of the GambleAware charity, Marc Etches, said that while it welcomed a commitment to do more to promote safer gambling, “the messaging needs to be much more explicit about the risk involved than what the gambling industry currently proposes”.