With the English Premier League returning to stadia and screens tonight, a new report has revealed the percentage breakdown of the front-of-shirt sponsors across Football, Rugby and Cricket and it makes for fascinating reading.

With reports that Premier League football clubs will vote on voluntarily banning betting firms from team’s front of shirts, it had been expected that this category would fall again like it did last year, but talk of a three-year lead-in period has obviously had a reverse impact, and there has been a flight towards other sports which have so far not been in the conversation around gambling harm.

The sector saw the joint third-highest rise in the number of front-of-shirt sponsors in the last year across the 226 professional football, cricket and rugby teams in England.

It now accounts for 9.2 per cent of sponsors, jumping back into second place behind Automotive (10.5 per cent) and ahead of Retail (8.8 per cent).

“It’s a notable return to favour for gambling after its share of sponsorships nearly halved from 2019 to 2021,” said Alex Burmaster, head of research and analysis at caytoo, the sponsorship and intelligence company that produced the research.

“However, this year, deals in rugby and cricket have resulted in a mini come back which will surprise many as publicity on gambling sponsorship centres on football.”

Biggest Increase

The rather unheralded Manufacturing and Engineering sector has seen the biggest increase in sponsorships from 4.9 per cent to 7.5 per cent. It’s now the fourth most prevalent sponsor, overtaking stalwart sectors such as IT, construction and travel and tourism. Retail (7.1 per cent to 8.8 per cent) is the next fastest-growing sector.

In contrast, Financial Services – last year’s second most dominant sector – has seen the biggest drop (down from 8.4 per cent to 6.1 per cent) and is now ranked fifth. The next biggest faller is Alcohol, down from 3.1 per cent to 1.3 per cent – just one-quarter of the share it held three years ago.

“The covid pandemic meant digitally-led firms dominated last year’s fastest-growers but this year, with the exception of online car retail, has seen more traditional sectors leading the charge,” added Burmaster.

Gambling is football’s most prevalent Front-of-shirt sponsor with a 15.4 per cent share overall but 40 per cent of the teams in the Premier League (Nottingham Forest have yet to unveil their sponsor for the season so that might yet rise.

Professional Services has almost quadrupled its share from one per cent to 3.8 per cent and is the fastest growing sector. In contrast, construction has seen the biggest decrease – from a 9.5 per cent share to 6.7 per cent.

Automotive remains cricket teams’ most prevalent front-of-shirt sponsor and is also the fastest grower. Its share leapt from 13.1 per cent to 17.7 per cent, nearly double that of second-placed travel and tourism at 9.7 per cent.

In contrast, Alcohol has seen the biggest decrease in the sport tumbling two-thirds from 9.8 per cent to 3.2 per cent.

Across both rugby codes (union and league), Retail is the fastest grower, jumping from 7.0 per cent to a 13.3 per cent share. As a result it is now the joint most prevalent sector along with Manufacturing and Engineering.

In contrast, Financial Services – the most dominant sector across rugby last year – has seen the biggest decrease, falling two-thirds from 15.8 per cent to 5.0 per cent and is now ranked joint sixth.

The surge of cryptocurrency sponsorships that has swept across sport in the United States has yet to manifest itself here but will be one to watch on this side of the Atlantic.

Get in touch with Rob Hartnett at Sport for Business if you’d like to know more about the report or get an introduction to caytoo.