GVC Hands Sunderland FC Kit Sponsorship to Charity

  • GVC Holdings is withdrawing its Betdaq kit sponsorship from Sunderland FC
  • Instead, it is paying for the Children With Cancer charity to be the new kit sponsor for next season
  • This is part of the company's social responsibility efforts
  • GVC and William Hill are calling for a ban on gambling companies being football kit sponsors
  • A similar ban is coming into effect in Italy
GVC Holdings is withdrawing its Betdaq kit sponsorship for Sunderland FC and paying for the Children With Cancer charity to be the sponsor instead
GVC Holdings is withdrawing its Betdaq kit sponsorship for Sunderland FC and paying for the Children With Cancer charity to be the sponsor instead

Leading gambling operator GVC Holdings has donated its position on the shirts of Sunderland FC to the Children With Cancer charity. GVC will be paying the full amount of compensation for the kit sponsorship.

Changing of the guard

Under GVC’s social responsibility program, Changing for the Bettor, the charity will be the main sponsor for Sunderland FC instead of Betdaq for the 2019-2020 season. Betdaq is GVC’s betting exchange, and sits among its brands Ladbrokes, Coral, Gala, Sportingbet, bwin, and partypoker.

This change comes into effect immediately.The English League One team is in a playoff to get back to the Championship on May 26 in Wembley vs Charlton Athletic. They will be wearing a new jersey with Children with Cancer as the sponsor in this game.

GVC has been attempting to become more socially responsible with its various brands and is calling for others to do likewise. The company will no longer invest in sports sponsorships or advertise on pitchside billboards.

The company says it is: “committed to unilaterally ending all football shirt sponsorship deals with UK teams and banning perimeter board advertising at football grounds, to allow sporting fans to watch their favorite teams without seeing any incentives to bet.”

Gambling sponsors in football

In English football, nine of the 20 teams in the Premier League currently have gambling sponsors for their kit. In the Championship, 17 of the 24 teams have kit sponsored by gambling companies. Most of these betting companies are not even brands well known in the UK.

It is a way for online-only brands to advertise as they have no retail presence. However, there has been a significant backlash against these sponsors. With the level of problem gambling in young people rising, there have been calls to curtail gambling advertising.

Young people are inundated with pro-gambling messages when watching football matches. The shirt sponsors, pitchside hoarding ads and TV ads that feature some of their favorite players are constantly pushing pro-gambling messages. This can leave a strong impression on the mind of a young person.

William Hill and Ladbrokes are calling for an end to kit sponsorship by gambling companies. GVC’s CEO Kenneth Alexander has also called for an end to gambling ads on television during sporting broadcasts. Horse racing would be the only exception.

There is such a ban coming into place in August for live events, but Alexander wants it to cover broadcasts at all times of the day. This triggered a backlash from many of the gambling companies that sponsor football kits. They claim that banning kit sponsorship will not do much to help reduce problem gambling.

Blanket ban in Italy

The coalition government in Italy, which came to power in early 2018, is largely anti-gambling. It brought in a blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertising, with effect from January 1, 2019.

A ban on gambling companies sponsoring football teams comes into effect this summer. It is a massive threat to Italian football as teams rely heavily on kit sponsorship revenue of about $140m each year.

A dozen of the teams in the Serie A have gambling sponsors and losing them may limit their ability to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. AC Milan has already failed to meet these obligations and got a two-season ban on competing in European competitions, which is a significant source of revenue for teams.

Anyone found to be in breach of this ban will face a penalty of $58,000 or 5% of the total value of the sponsorship deal. The funds deriving from such fines will go towards problem gambling programs.

Some teams may try continue using gambling sponsors, but if the authorities impose a fine for each offense, this could soon outweigh the benefits of keeping the sponsor. Existing gambling sponsorship deals that run into 2019 will be able to fulfill their contracts without any penalties.