The Premier League is calling on clubs to support the phasing out of shirt sponsorship by gaming companies in a last-ditch effort to avoid a government-imposed ban.
Sky News learned that the Premier League contacted clubs on Monday to propose a resolution that would see betting companies disappear from teams’ shirts within the next three years.
Under the proposal, a voluntary ban would come into effect at the start of the new season, but would allow existing deals to run their course, provided they expire no later than the 2024-25 campaign.
The communication with the 20 top clubs represents the Premier League‘s most concerted effort to resolve an issue that has come under intense political scrutiny in recent weeks.
Under Premier League rules, backing the proposal from at least 14 clubs would see it passed immediately. A club leader said he was only given a few days to respond.
Sky News reported late last week that the Premier League had suggested to the Government that shirt sleeve branding should be allowed to continue indefinitely, although it was unclear whether this idea formed part of Monday’s communication with the clubs.
An executive from another club said the Premier League had indicated the betting sponsorship ban was intended to be permanent, but would be subject to a clause allowing it to be lifted with two years’ notice in certain circumstances.
Perimeter advertising by gaming companies would continue to be allowed, according to one of the recipients of the proposal.
The issue is sensitive for major English football clubs, as many of them have become dependent on income from the gambling industry.
Almost half of Premier League clubs, including Newcastle United and West Ham, were sponsored by betting companies last season, although the Magpies are likely to secure a replacement for Fun88 after the next campaign.
Other shirt sponsors last season included SpreadEx Sport in West Ham, Hollywood Bet in Brentford and Sportsbet.io in Southampton.
The temperature reported last week that ministers had abandoned plans to legislate to ban the names of betting groups from appearing on football shirts and were instead seeking a voluntary agreement with clubs.
The Premier League reportedly told clubs on Monday that they believed this to be incorrect and that the government would seek a legislative ban unless a voluntary agreement was reached.
A Whitehall source said there had been intensive discussions in recent days over the terms of the voluntary agreement. It suggests ministers would back a deal if passed by the required majority of clubs.
A football financial analyst has suggested the big six clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – should back a voluntary ban as none of them had shirt sponsorship deals existing with game companies.
Nonetheless, the Premier League’s proposal, if accepted, would anger anti-gambling campaigners as it would not trigger an immediate and comprehensive ban on the gambling industry retaining a presence in stadiums and on shirts. participating in the most watched national football tournament in the world. world.
A broader set of gambling reforms are expected to be unveiled in a white paper in the coming weeks.
A DCMS spokesperson declined to comment on the Premier League’s proposal, but said last week: “We are undertaking the most comprehensive review of gambling laws in 15 years to ensure they are fit for purpose. the digital age. We will publish a white paper as part of a review of gambling legislation in the coming weeks.”
The Premier League declined to comment.