One of the two Premier League clubs from the home town of the Beatles, Everton Football Club, have announced that they are cutting short their current shirt sponsorship deal with the Kenyan betting company SportPesa by the end of the current season. The sports book operator from Africa has also agreed to the premature end.
The five-year deal that was signed back in 2017 was for reportedly £48 million over five years, £9.6 million per year, and was expected to run until the end of 2021-2022 season, but after a comprehensive review of the commercial strategy of the club in line with its vision and future growth plans, Everton have decided to sever ties with SportPesa and start looking for a new shirt sponsor.
There is no additional information disclosed regarding the reasons behind this decision and whether it is related to a recent scandal around the sports betting company.
SportPesa, the Kenyan-based sports betting operator, has been recently involved in a domestic turmoil, after a controversial decision by the country’s parliament to impose a 20% excise tax on all betting stakes, 100% increase, forced the company to halt operations in Kenya and downsize 453 employees.
Premier League Clubs Relying On Sports Books Money
Everton FC is one of 10 Premier League clubs that have sports betting companies as shirt sponsors, all of them gaining in total of £69 million in the current season.
These Premier League clubs are aware of the sensitivities implied with the relationship between football and betting and would definitely prefer shirt deals with non-gambling companies, but the clubs feel they have no other option but to accept what is the best offer from betting companies so as not to leave themselves at a disadvantage with their rivals, with unnamed club source claiming the next best deal was twice as low from the £7 million per year they got.
UK Government Expected To Tighten Regulations
In January, a report in The Times claimed that the British government ministers were determined to review the 2005 Gambling Act, with the real possibility of tightening restrictions around branding of betting companies appearing on soccer team jerseys, with even a possible blanket ban on the table.
The possibility of a blanket ban spurred the betting industry into action, with some reports claiming bookmakers were considering a voluntary ban on football shirt sponsorship and pitch-side advertising, to expand to the whistle-to-whistle ban on television gambling adverts introduced last year.
GVC, the parent company of Ladbrokes and Coral, has already withdrawn its sponsorship in football, calling for other sports betting operators to follow its lead in a wider industry move.
Was the decision by Everton FC to cut ties with SportPesa a proaction of expected tightening, with further clubs to follow as they review their shirt sponsorship deals, or was it only due to financial reasons?