There will be much scratching of heads in Italy where match fixing allegations around soccer continue to see arrests and suspicion but in England, the better side of sports betting as part of the entertainment mix has stepped up a considerable number of gears through the decision by the Football League to sign over title sponsorship rights to Sky Bet, part of the Sky broadcasting empire.
The Sky Bet Football League will get under way in earnest on Saturday August 3rd with its three divisions being titled ‘The Sky Bet Championship’, ‘Sky Bet League 1’ and ‘Sky Bet League 2’.
The deal replaces that with nPower which ended in May and which the League had taken a significant chance on through turning down a one year extension.
The overall deal, including an expanded and extended broadcasting deal for 37 more live matches every season, new programming and more is believed to be worth over £250 million.
Sky bet is a familiar advertiser within live soccer programming, as you might expect but this is the first off screen partnership it has undertaken.
It will mean a closer relationship with the 72 clubs of the football league but existing betting partnerships that clubs have with other betting companies will not be affected. The importance of betting revenues through in stadium betting arrangement and through individual club initiatives has become very significant and because of its diversity would be very difficult to match by one brand in pure value terms to each of the clubs.
In that sense it is likely that pitch side advertising which is sold separately will continue to carry rival brands to the main sponsor, an idea that few if any other sports would be able to do.
The deal does not extend to the clubs of the Barclays Premier League.
Sky Bet claims to be the UK’s fourth-largest online bookmaker with over 1 million UK residents having placed a bet with it in the last 12 months. It operates online and mobile betting services and does not have any of the traditional high street betting shops like Ladbrokes or Paddy Power.
“This is a ground-breaking partnership for Sky Bet,” said managing director Richard Flint. “We know that having a bet on the match can make it even more exciting. In the past fans would go into a betting shop on the way to the ground, but with our industry-leading mobile apps and website they can place their bets quickly and conveniently whether going to the match or watching it on Sky at home.”
“Sponsorship of The Football League helps us engage with millions of football fans spanning all 72 league clubs. It was important for us that we are able to demonstrate our commitment to all Football League clubs and fans nationwide. The strength of our technology supported by a trusted brand that is part of the fabric of football means we’re ideally placed to add to the match-day experience of fans.”
In addition to title sponsorship of the three divisions, Sky will also use its partnership with The Football League to explore opportunities to offer customers exclusive access to competitions and promotional offers, including access to Football League match tickets.
Greg Clarke, the Chairman of The Football League said: “I am delighted to welcome Sky Bet to working with The Football League and its clubs. This agreement takes our long-term partnership with Sky to a new level and provides a genuine boost to clubs ahead of the new season.”