Newly-promoted to the English Premier League (EPL) Fulham FC is about to unveil a controversial sponsor, a report in The Athletic speculates, claiming Asian bookmaker W88 will be the soccer club’s shirt sponsor for the 2022-23 season.
Fans Divided on Gambling Sponsorships
Fulham is yet to announce its new shirt sponsor and reveal its new kit but it seems that the club’s owners are not deterred by the anticipated restrictions on gambling sponsorships that are expected to be announced with the government’s White Paper as online betting firm W88 briefly appeared on the club’s handbook for the upcoming season before being eventually removed.
The soccer club also seems unmoved by the findings of the Fulham Supporters’ Trust’s survey last year which revealed that 47% of fans were in favor of implementing a blanket ban on gambling shirt sponsorship and 46% would not feel at ease if the club shirts feature a gambling sponsor.
“With the likelihood of a voluntary ban on gambling front of shirt sponsors being agreed by the Premier League imminently, it appears Fulham, along with other clubs, are taking the last opportunity to get revenue from overseas gambling companies that don’t operate in the UK,” the Fulham Supporters’ Trust commented.
According to the media report, the Asian betting firm’s logo is set to replace the front of shirt logo of blockchain telecommunications network World Mobile, which will be moved to the shirt sleeves and training gear. Neither Fulham nor W88 responded to the request for comments from the media, though.
History of Gambling Partnerships
Established back in 1879, Fulham is the oldest soccer club in London and for many years has been on the ups and downs in the lower echelons of English soccer. Its rise began in the summer of 1997 when the club was bought by Hotel Ritz Paris owner Mohamed Al Fayed.
Al Fayed sold the club to Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan in 2013 to make Fulham at the time the sixth EPL team to fall into US hands. Current owner Khan is the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL.
In its long history, Fulham has been partnering with several gambling companies as its shirt sponsor such as Betvictor and Grosvenor Casinos, as well as financial services retail broker FXPro.
Betvictor was named the club’s main sponsor ahead of the 2020-21 campaign when Fulham was again competing in the EPL. Grosvenor Casinos became the club’s main sponsor in the summer of 2017 in a two-year deal while the deal with FxPro dates back to 2010.
In October last year, Fulham signed a sponsorship deal with Asiabet33 ahead of its season in the Championship, while its allegedly new partner W88 became the official sportsbook partner of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) in the Asian market earlier this year.