Scottish Premiership side Rangers will not extend a long-running in-stadium betting sponsorship with UK gambling operator Ladbrokes, which is also the title sponsor of the top four leagues in Scotland.
The deal is due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season and Rangers had been in negotiations with Ladbrokes over an extension, but the Glasgow club said today (Tuesday) that it would not be renewed.
Ladbrokes provides fans with the ability to place bets at Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium on matchdays.
The move comes after a stormy weekend in Scottish football amidst the fall-out from a vote over whether to end the second-, third- and fourth-tier league seasons and hand out prize money to clubs.
James Bisgrove, Rangers’ director of commercial and marketing, said: “Following a number of supporter enquiries over the Easter weekend, we can confirm the arrangement with Ladbrokes, who provide betting facilities at Ibrox stadium, will not continue next season.
“In anticipation of our 150th anniversary [in 2022], Rangers will continue to grow its Commercial Partnerships programme, both domestically and internationally.”
Rangers fans took to social media over the weekend after a tweet from David Macdonald, Ladbrokes’ media, sponsorship & PR manager in Scotland.
The tweet from Macdonald – which has since been deleted – was critical of Inverness Caledonian Thistle chief executive Scott Gardiner, who gave a radio interview on Saturday to explain details of clubs’ votes in the Scottish Professional Football League ballot.
Both Rangers and ICT voted against the proposal for the Championship, League One and League Two to finish now on a points-per-game basis. The Premiership would also be called if the league board “determines the games cannot be played”. During a weekend of claim, counter claim and statements, Rangers called for an independent investigation into the ballot, along with the suspension of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and legal adviser Rod McKenzie.
Friday’s ballot remains incomplete after the Championship side Dundee asked for their initial no vote not to be considered, according to the SPFL. The backing of Dundee would see the SPFL motion passed.
Rangers have a shirt sponsorship deal in place with rival betting operator 32Red.
Ladbrokes is not renewing its SPFL title sponsorship beyond the end of the 2019-20 season as it continues to reduce its visibility in UK football.
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 (€2.3m/$2.5m) 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.
Ladbrokes has this season used some of its SPFL sponsorship inventory, including branding on interview backdrops, static and LED advertising boards, to support GambleAware’s ‘Bet Regret’ campaign aimed at moderating the behaviour of young male gamblers. The league’s composite logo worn on players’ sleeve was also adapted at the start of the season to remove the reference to Ladbrokes.