Swansea City Drops Betting Sponsor

Swansea City has become the latest football club in the UK to distance itself from betting sponsorship. For the last four seasons, Swansea’s football team has had betting firms as its shirt sponsors. Now, as football clubs across the UK face mounting pressure over links with gambling firms, Swansea City has revealed that its new shirt sponsor is Swansea University.

A crowd of spectators watches a football match at a stadium.

Due to pressure from MPs and campaigners, an increasing number of football clubs have dropped their betting sponsors in recent months. ©Tembela Bohle/Pexels

Swansea City Reveals Shirt Revamp

The Welsh football club’s change of sponsorship is the latest in a growing trend. Last month, a House of Lords Select Committee recommended that Premier League clubs should not be allowed to display betting firms on shirts. Pressure from MPs and campaigners is intensifying, and an increasing number of football teams are shifting away from associations with gambling.

Swansea University will feature on the team’s home and away shirts throughout the upcoming Championship campaign and the full 2020 – 21 season. The university’s logo will also be featured on all the shirts of the under-23 and ladies teams.

During the last season, half of Premier League clubs and 17 out of 24 Championship teams were sponsored by bookmakers. In a press release, Swansea City explained that now adults and children would be able to wear identical versions of the club’s shirt. Swansea University will also continue in its role as the club’s exclusive higher education partner.

Fans of Swansea City will be familiar with the university’s logo. It was featured on the back of shirts and other team clothing worn by the club last season. Swansea University will continue with its West Stand stadium sponsorship, alongside advertising on SwansTV Live’s streamed fixtures. Speaking for the club, head of commercial, Rebecca Edwards-Symmons stated:

“There is nothing better than having local, prestigious brands involved with us as a club and we look forward to a very successful forthcoming season.”

Swansea University is a fitting choice of sponsor, as it already has an established relationship with the club. Earlier this year, the university celebrated its 100th birthday. Since 1920, it has earned a reputation for developing cutting edge research, working closely with industry and offering top quality education for students from around the world. Andrew Rhodes is the registrar and chief operating officer at Swansea University. He said:

“We are very pleased to be the front of shirt sponsor for Swansea City next season. Building on our partnership with the football club as its Higher Education Partner, which was recently renewed for the next three years, this sponsorship deal brings huge benefit to Swansea University as we look to recruit students for the future.”

Swansea City’s new kit has now been unveiled, and features a sleek redesign. The shirts are printed with a wave design on the body and sleeves, referencing the club’s coastal location. Away kits are bold and colorful, in a combination of turquoise and raspberry. Goalkeeping shirts are also eye-catching, with a choice of fluorescent coral or green camouflage.

The new kits will be provided by Joma, a Spanish company that has been the club’s official sportswear provider since 2016. Swansea City recently signed a three-year extension to its partnership with the leading sportswear manufacturer.

Pundits Praise Swansea City

Swansea City’s decision to distance itself from gambling has been welcomed by campaigners on social media. Carolyn Harris is the MP for Swansea East, as well as chair of the Gambling Related Harm APPG. She has repeatedly called for a ban on gambling shirt sponsors. Harris praised the club in a tweet:

“I’m over the moon. The club’s move away from sponsorship from gambling firms is a really positive step, which will benefit their fans in Swansea and much further afield. I hope many more clubs follow their lead to help safeguard the wellbeing of their fans, particularly youngsters.”

James Grimes, of the charity The Big Step, also expressed his delight at the news. The Big Step aims to tackle the relationship between problem gambling and football. Grimes said:

“The positive reaction from their fans is a reminder that gambling shirt sponsorship is overwhelmingly unpopular with fans and parents. Young fans should be able to wear the same kit as their parents and their heroes but most importantly, children shouldn’t be exposed to brands that sell products associated with addiction. We hope more clubs follow their lead and that government ends all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football.”

Betting companies have sponsored Swansea City for eight of its last eleven campaigns. Previous sponsors include 32Red, BETEAST, and Bet UK. Prior to the switch to Swansea University, the club’s main shirt sponsor was Yobet. The online operator became the Swansea team’s sponsor in July 2019, marking its first foray into sponsorship of a football club in the UK.

While Swansea City has now dropped Yobet, not all football clubs are moving away from betting sponsors. Coventry City FC has just announced Irish bookmaker BoyleSports as its new shirt sponsor for the 2020/21 season. Queens Park Rangers FC has signed a new sponsorship deal with Football Index, the ‘football stock market’. Bristol City FC is also the latest club to be sponsored by MansionBet, an online betting platform that has previously sponsored Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur and AFC Bournemouth.

However, the tide is turning as calls to reduce the volume of betting sponsorship and gambling representation in football have become amplified in recent years. This week, the Betting and Gaming Council praised the success of the ‘whistle to whistle’ ad ban, which it introduced in August 2019. The ban was brought in to reduce the number of gambling ads seen on TV by children. Before the watershed, betting ads cannot be aired from five minutes before a live sporting event airs until five minutes after it has ended.

According to the BGC, analysis shows that the number of gambling ads seen by children on TV has been reduced by 97%. Across four comparative weekends, it estimates that 109 million fewer gambling adverts were seen. Chief executive of the BGC, Michal Dugher explained:

“In particular, it’s encouraging to see that it has effectively eliminated children’s ability to view betting adverts during live televised sport. I am determined that the BGC will lead a race to the top in terms of industry standards and we want to drive more changes in the future.”

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