Does the Ban on Bookmaker Advertising on Premier League Jerseys Really Change Anything?
As Friday marks the beginning of football competition on English pitches, bookmakers will once again claim a significant portion of advertising space on Premier League club jerseys. However, for betting operators, this might be the last opportunity to showcase themselves to English team fans.
With the start of the 2026/27 season, a ban on advertising for bookmaker companies on the front of Premier League club jerseys will be enforced. Initially, this regulation, passed in April of this year, seemed to completely alter the landscape of sports sponsorship in England. But can we truly consider this a seismic shift?
For the 2023/24 season, bookmakers remain the primary sponsors for seven out of the 20 teams in the English top flight. Some companies, seeking to make the most of their final chance, have opted to strike new deals with clubs. Thus, the presence of bookmakers on the front of English team match jerseys remains strong three years before the ad ban.
However, it’s important to note that the ban exclusively applies to the front of jerseys. Other spaces, such as sleeves and LED boards, are still available for advertising. Therefore, for the next three seasons, bookmakers can maintain their presence on the most prominent spots on Premier League jerseys. Yet, starting from the 2026/27 season, they will be required to remove their logos or adjust their positioning.
Moreover, both clubs and bookmakers have been given ample time to adapt to the new regulations. Gambling firms and elite English teams have, in a way, received permission to make the most of the next three years. What happens after that?
Not a Big Gap
According to Carling, the value of contracts between bookmakers and clubs typically ranges from £4 million to £6 million per year. This is a relatively minor contribution compared to the tens of millions of dollars earned annually by the BIG 6 clubs through sponsorship deals.
In reality, teams from outside Europe are often more reliant on television rights money. This means that the revenue gap left by departing bookmaker sponsors will likely not be significant.
Furthermore, it’s likely that if sleeves and LED boards are the only available advertising spaces for bookmakers, the value of advertising in those areas might significantly increase shortly. Bookmakers aiming to stay associated with the prestigious Premier League brand might be willing to pay more even for less prominent spots. Clubs are likely to take advantage of this and the value of less significant deals could rise.
The shakeup in English sports sponsorship might have also brought unexpected side effects. For a while, it seemed that cryptocurrency exchanges might take over the front of jerseys. However, given recent market fluctuations, this possibility has become less likely.
However, advocates for regulatory changes must remain cautious and monitor the situation to ensure they don’t end up worse off in the end.
A Tricky Compromise That Changes Little
The Premier League has opted for a delicate compromise. On one hand, the league accommodated anti-gambling organizations that advocated for stricter regulations, especially considering the younger audience. On the other hand, it made many concessions to clubs and bookmakers, allowing them to make the most of the transition period and permitting further gambling firm advertising in less exposed areas.
However, the Premier League has led the way both in Europe and the UK. Other leagues, like cricket, may eagerly embrace the ban introduced by the Premier League. For instance, shortly after the Premier League’s announcement, the International Cricket Council (ICC) declared the opposite move and lifted the bookmaker advertising ban.
The Scottish Professional Football League has also declined to follow the Premier League’s lead, citing substantial financial losses for Scottish teams.
Thus, the Premier League has settled on a middle ground that ultimately ensures bookmakers won’t vanish completely from English pitches. These companies will offset potential losses in other leagues or sports, while Premier League teams won’t suffer greatly from the absence of large sponsorship deals.
Certainly, the league has made a step towards the growing emphasis on social responsibility on the islands. However, taking all factors into account, it can be considered a move that doesn’t mean much in practice.