HomeNewsSponsorship & MarketingFootballUnited Kingdom

MP calls for Scottish football clubs to ban betting sponsorships

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

A UK Member of Parliament has proposed that the 42 Scottish professional football clubs sign a charter agreement to stop all gambling sponsorships between clubs and operators.

Ronnie Cowan, the Scottish National Party MP for Inverclyde, has called on the clubs to sign the ‘Football Gambling Charter’ for a release in Westminster, London tomorrow.

The charter would call on Scottish football clubs to ban all gambling operator branding on sponsorships, in-stadium displays and promotional materials.

Cowan is a vice-chairman of a cross-party parliamentary group on gambling-related harm.

The move comes after revelation in the Scottish press that the country’s governing body, the Scottish Football Association (SFA), has secretly banned players for breaking betting rules.

Brian Rice, manager of Scottish Premiership club Hamilton Academical, recently received a 10-match ban, which was suspended for five games, after he broke SFA betting regulations which are thought to have been regularly breached by professional players.
Scottish football is particularly sensitive to gambling-related problems because of the concentration of gambling operators at all levels of the game.

The three major competitions in Scottish football are all title sponsored by betting operators. Bookmaker William Hill sponsors the Scottish Cup, rival firm Ladbrokes sponsors the Scottish Premiership and League 1 and League 2, while Betfred gives its name to the Scottish League Cup.

This sector monopoly will come to an end after this season, with William Hill and Ladbrokes choosing not to renew their respective deals.

William Hill opted against another Scottish Cup extension because the football market was too crowded with gambling brands, prompting public concerns about the association between football and gambling.

Ladbrokes first came on board as the title sponsor of the four Scottish leagues in 2015, signing a two-year agreement. That deal was worth £2m (€2.4m/$2.6m) in the first season, before rising to around £2.1m in the second season.

A one-year option covering the 2017-18 season worth in the region of £1.5m was then taken up, before a further two-year agreement was signed that extended the partnership to 2020. The annual fee currently paid by Ladbrokes is not thought to have reached the record sum paid by the bookmaker at the start of the agreement.

Betfred has given its name to the Scottish League Cup since the 2016-17 season, and SportBusiness understands that the bookmaker and the SPFL recent agreed a one-year renewal.

The gambling operator is currently thought to pay just over £300,000 per year for the rights.