Premier League clubs gamble that betting move will stop Government getting shirty

Everton, Bournemouth and Leeds United have gambling companies as main shirt sponsors

Football’s Premier League has voluntarily agreed to stop gambling companies advertising on the front of clubs’ matchday shirts in three years’ time.

The move comes amid greater scrutiny on the role of gambling sponsorship, which had filled the void left by the removal of alcohol and tobacco brands from playing shirts.

Currently eight of the 20 Premier League teams have gambling companies as their main shirt sponsor, including Stake at Everton, SBOTOP at Leeds and Dafabet at Bournemouth.

Six Championship clubs, including Birmingham City, Coventry City and Stoke City, also have bookmakers as their main sponsors this season.

The voluntary ban will come into force for the 2026-27 season. There are already legal restrictions in Spain and Italy while Germany’s Bundesliga has a much lower level of sponsorship from gambling companies.

The Government is preparing to publish its gambling white paper and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the Premier League’s announcement was “strongly welcome”.

She tweeted: “While the vast majority of adults enjoy gambling without harm, we can’t ignore the fact footballers are massive role models to kids.

“Our upcoming Gambling White Paper will upgrade punter protections & do more to protect those at risk of addiction.”

The Premier League’s pre-emptive move is only for the front of the shirts, meaning logos could still go on sleeves, shorts and the back of shirts. Other branding placements, including pitchside advertising and online, are also unaffected.

In a statement, the Premier League said: “Premier League clubs have today collectively agreed to withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of clubs’ matchday shirts, becoming the first sports league in the UK to take such a measure voluntarily in order to reduce gambling advertising.

“The announcement follows an extensive consultation involving the League, its clubs and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s ongoing review of current gambling legislation.”

The football organisation said it is also working with other sports on “the development of a new code for responsible gambling sponsorship”.

A spokesperson for the Rugby Football League, which has Betfred as the main sponsor of the England men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams as well as the title sponsor of the sport’s Super League, Championship, League 1 and Challenge Cup competitions, said “there was no consideration at the moment” to follow the Premier League. The sport’s governing body said it would “wait and see” what the government’s white paper recommends.