Middlesbrough may have to seek a new shirt sponsorship after it emerges Government plan to clamp down on betting firms
Middlesbrough could be on the look for a new shirt sponsor after it was revealed the Government is considering a ban on betting firm sponsorship.
Reports from the Daily Mail suggest a Government white paper policy document setting out proposals for future legislation is to come out in the coming months following a review of the 2005 Gambling Act by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Any change in legislation could see a blackout on front-of-shirt betting firm sponsorships including Neil Warnock’s Boro.
The Teessiders are one of six Championship sides sponsored by betting companies.
Boro have been in partnership with the online casino company 32Red for three years after striking a deal with the multi-award winning firm which forms part of the Kindred Group that operates multiple brands including Unibet, bingo.com and Maria Casino.
The agreement, in 2018, saw the 32Red logo replace Ramsdens Currency on Boro’s home and away kits with the partnership aimed at ‘promoting responsible gambling’ as opposed to enticing punters.
Part of the deal with 32Red also included support for the MFC Foundation and its delivery of the Team Talk initiative which aims to promote men engaging about their mental health and well-being.
Boro and the Kindred Group reached a new deal this summer to extend the partnership and shirt sponsor for an additional three seasons. If the new Government plans go ahead, it isn’t likely that any changes will be enforced until at least 2023.
Kindred Group general manager Neil Banbury said of the agreement: “Our relationship with Middlesbrough is a longstanding one and we are thrilled to be continuing it. There are several important elements to this partnership including the continued promotion of our responsible gambling message across front-of-shirt branding and on LED perimeter boards.”
But following the anticipated proposals from the Government both front-of-shirt sponsors and pitchside advertising are to be clamped down upon in order to tackle the nations gambling problem.
Talks have long-since emerged over the issue of front-of-shirt betting sponsorships but have regularly failed to materialise into anything concrete given the significant investment poured into football by those firms.
The issue of gambling is becoming more and more prevalent as stars open up about their concerns with addiction.
Former Boro midfielder Paul Merson has publicised his issues with gambling, speaking as recently as this week on national radio station talkSPORT where he revealed addiction problems left him wanting to ‘break his own fingers.’
Betting companies took on the mantle of football shirt sponsorships in recent years following the demise of alcohol branding and the outlawing of tobacco sponsorships in 2003.
But while messages from clubs advertising and promoting betting companies can be perceived as unethical, the cash injection it provides is substantial – particularly in the current COVID-19 climate where finances are strapped.
And yet clubs may now have to brace themselves for a hit as this latest revelation seems the closest we have ever been to tackling the gambling and advertising dispute in sport.
While documents will need to be passed through parliament before any law is enforced, the Sportsmail report suggests that by 2023 we may see an overhaul of the way we see sponsorship and advertisement in football both on shirts and around pitchside as well as during broadcasts.