In a move reminiscent of a football club simultaneously unveiling two or three new signings, British online betting company Bet365 has announced ten new sponsorship deals with clubs in Spain’s top division.
The deals, all announced at the same time on Wednesday, saw the Stoke-on-Trent based firm, which was founded in a portacabin in 2000, seal official partnerships with RCD Espanyol, Celta Vigo, Real Betis, Villareal, and six other teams. The deals cover the next two seasons.
This follows earlier link-ups between betting sports betting companies and teams in La Liga. Betway made deals with Levante, CD Leganes, and Deportivo Alaves, while Bwin renewed its contracts with Atletico Madrid and Valencia. The two giants of Spanish football, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have betting partnerships with Betfair and Codere, respectively, while Girona recently signed a shirt sponsorship deal with Marathonbet.
But Bet365 has clearly snapped up the lion’s share of the La Liga and, while they have always been active in TV and stadium advertising, fans can now expect to see the company have a much greater presence on clubs’ social media networks and channels.
In 2016, online betting companies invested €138m (£123m; $160m) in sponsorships in Spain, not including money spent on TV marketing, social media, or billboards. That represented a 3.5% increase over the previous year, and it seems certain to be surpassed in the coming season as the links between clubs across Europe and the online betting companies grows ever closer.
With leagues like Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League now being beamed worldwide, we are almost certain to see the online betting companies follow a similar path, as they seek to use their close connections with teams to develop a worldwide customer base.
The biggest market is unquestionably China and one of Europe’s top teams, French club Monaco, is launching social networks in China, with three club accounts being set up on various platforms. The announcement came ahead of Saturday’s French Super Cup, which is being played in China for the second time. Monaco will take on Paris St. Germain in Shenzhen on Saturday.
It’s a move that the online betting companies will be watching closely. Although betting in China is tightly controlled, with a population of 1.4b, the country represents a huge potential market for any company able to break into it.
England’s Premier League season gets underway on Friday, August 10, and the Spanish Super Cup takes place just two days later. Both leagues will have plenty of clubs sponsored by online betting companies, with or without official betting partners. But, however big the English and Spanish markets are, it may be that the bookmakers have one eye on a much bigger prize 5,000 miles away.