This Sunday the Eurocup and the America’s Cup ended. However, there are already several teams that have started their preseason this week. The football calendar, already tight, has been tightened more after the pandemic and it is that in just one month, on August 13, the ball of La Liga, the national league competition, will roll. And despite the fact that there is little more than four weeks to go before the start, a good part of the teams that make up this championship are looking for a sponsor to fill the void left by the bookmakers, vetoed by the reform of the law on advertising of the game launched by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and which, 10 months after its approval, will come into full force at the end of August.
The attempt of a league of rich people fails but the businessmen who promoted it have already changed the football business
Specifically, the new rule prevents professional sports clubs from carrying sportsbook advertising on their shirts. Although the final date for this to become a reality is August 30, the official competition will start two weeks earlier, on August 13. By then, hopefully, the sportsbook advertising on the t-shirts will have disappeared. Some clubs had contracts that extended beyond that date and others even renewed them last summer, when it was already known that it would foreseeably be the last season with advertising of the game on the kits. This “recklessness” was denounced by the minister himself, Alberto Garzón, who charged at the beginning of last season against the clubs that signed contracts with the game companies.
Nine of the 20 teams that make up the Santander League, as the league competition is known by its commercial name, in the 2021/2022 season wore a bookmaker on their shirts as the main sponsorship. The figure is even higher if one takes into account clubs that have secondary sponsors or commercial agreements with gaming platforms, such as the recently promoted Rayo Vallecano. In total there are 24 teams between first and second that had publicity on their kits, either as main or secondary sponsor. All of them will have to end these contracts.
From bets to cryptocurrencies
When it comes to the first division of Spanish football, almost half of the clubs are looking for a new main sponsor for their shirts. They are Valencia, Sevilla, Betis, Granada, Levante, Alavés, Cádiz, Espanyol and Mallorca, the last two recently promoted from the second division. Of these nine teams, only the first of them has already announced the new sponsor. Set che reported that this year’s shirt would be sponsored by the blockchain platform Chiliz, who through partners.com has created a token currency for the club’s followers. Until now, Bwin was the sponsor of Valencia, but the contract, which was in force until next summer, has had to be canceled due to the new advertising law for the game. As reported by the sports media when the agreement was signed, the sponsorship was around 5 million euros.
The rest, the other eight teams that until now were sponsored by bookmakers, have not yet announced their new sponsor. For some time now, it has become strange to see football clubs without a brand on their kits, but some of these kits have released their shirts without an advertiser in recent weeks. This is the case of Sevilla, the fourth team in Spanish football last season. The team was sponsored by Marathon Bet, another bookmaker on a contract that was, in fact, extended last year. The new shirt was presented with a blank space designed for the future sponsor of the team, which will play the Champions League, the highest European competition.
The dates of the beginning of the new season are approaching and some clubs recognize that it is a real possibility that they will start the league in their ‘blank’ jerseys. This is the case of Alavés. Until now, the club from Vitoria was sponsored by Betway – a company present in four top teams – and has recently presented its new jersey without having a closed sponsor for the next campaign. From the Basque team they point out to this medium that, although it is a possibility to start the new season without sponsorship, the objective is to “cover all the positions” of advertisers on the shirts. Although, they have not set a deadline to achieve it. The contract with the bookmaker expired last year but, like Sevilla, it was decided to extend it for this course, despite the fact that the ban on advertising the game was already flying over.
The rest of the teams, except Mallorca, have not yet released their kits for next season, despite the fact that some have already started preparing for the new campaign. Most of the great La Liga teams have already presented their jersey designs in recent weeks, such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid or the current champion, Atlético de Madrid.
A law in the courts
The government’s decision to ban bookmaker advertising, which by extension affects sponsorship in professional sports, has the world of football against it. According to Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, the employer association that unites first and second division clubs, the end of the sponsorship of bookmakers eliminates 90 million euros of revenue for Spanish teams. That is why La Liga filed an appeal in court against the gambling decree approved by the Government. It is not the only one, the rule has also received resources from the employers’ associations of the written press (AMI) and that of the online game, Jdigital.
The advertising contracts of bookmakers have been gaining presence in the world of football, not only in the Spanish league. In other competitions such as the English one, about half of the clubs are sponsored by these companies, which have experienced a business boom in recent years. According to UEFA data, the betting and gaming houses are already the main sponsors of soccer teams in eleven leagues and they are the economic sector with the largest sponsorships in the continent, surpassing the trade. At the same time, according to the organization, there are already 16 countries in Europe, which will now be joined by Spain, that have banned the advertising of the game on the teams’ jerseys. Around 22% of European football revenue depends on sponsorships.
The end of bookmaker sponsorship for football clubs comes at an economically difficult time for the companies that manage these teams. The pandemic has hit a sector that was experiencing a salary and transfer bubble, especially among the big clubs, and now many of them are balancing to balance their accounts. In fact, five of the nine clubs that are looking for a new sponsor after the veto of bookmakers are on the list of teams that used the loans guaranteed by the ICO that the Government launched last year. to combat the effects of the pandemic.
In a month and a half, the law that limits the advertising of the game in Spain will be fully in force. From then on, clubs will not be able to sign sponsorship contracts that involve advertising on jerseys and kits. In addition, advertising in stadiums, when hosting events that are broadcast live, will have to adjust to the schedules of the rest of the advertising media: from 1 to 5 in the morning. Furthermore, no stadium may bear the name of a betting brand.