It almost seems counterintuitive, but sports and sports betting no longer go hand-in-hand in the UK. More entities operating in the sports realm, from teams to organizations to sports media outlets, are distancing themselves from official sportsbook relationships.
This is also seen in other parts of the world, but the UK seems to be stuck in overdrive. The latest to flip is the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). It will no longer have a sports betting operator as the sponsor of the World Darts Championship, breaking a streak that ran for two decades.
Sportsbook Replaced by Car Dealer
Matchroom Sports, the organizer of the PDC, confirmed this week that Cazoo, an online car-buying platform, is the new sponsor of the tournament. It takes over from William Hill as the title sponsor for the World Darts Championship starting next year. William Hill has been sponsoring the events since 2015.
The sponsorship is part of a multi-year agreement with the dealership. Cazoo will be the biggest marketing partner of professional darts. It will be the lead sponsor of eight PDC Tour events, including The Masters, Players Championship Finals, and the UK Open.
Matt Porter, chief executive of the PDC, stated in the announcement, “Cazoo’s partnership with the PDC has already seen their brand receive huge worldwide exposure and this new multi-event deal will extend their sponsorship to four of our biggest and most prestigious events.”
Cazoo extends its partnership to eight key PDC tournaments with this multi-year agreement. It follows the company’s existing partnership with the PDC 2021 as title sponsors of the World Cup of Darts, European Championship, and Grand Slam of Darts.
The End of an Era
Sportsbook sponsorships were synonymous with the PDC’s annual end-of-year event, which is held each December at London’s Alexandra Palace. Ladbrokes started the run in 2003.
Matchroom Sports had been able to revive the tournament by securing sponsorships from betting companies. This helped the PDC increase its championships prize pool, which was original £200,000 ($274,000) in 2003. It is now £2.5 million ($3.43 million) for the 2022 event.
Cazoo is now the UK’s largest sports sponsor. It has a portfolio that includes cricket (The Hundred), soccer (Everton Villa & The EFL), rugby (Welsh Rugby Union and the 2021 Rugby League World Cup), horse racing (Epsom Derby and St Leger), golf (European Tour) and snooker (“World Snooker Tour”).
Cazoo is also the title sponsor for professional darts’ Premier League. The league will begin in February with World Champion Peter Wright and reigning champion Jonny Clay competing in arenas in the UK, Ireland, and Germany.