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Ah the seventies. When football was purely about football, hair was long and shorts were, short. A tough tackle earned you a pat on the back rather than a yellow card and finances had little impact on how a team performed on the field.

That would change by the time that Trevor Francis became Britain's first million-pound footballer in 1979. That same year, Liverpool – then the dominant force in the English game – became the first side to feature a shirt sponsor after agreeing to a £50,000-a-year deal with Hitachi.

Shirt sponsorship is now worth more than £300 million annually in the Premier League, with the so-called ‘Big Six’ each bringing in over £35 million in the 2018-19 season. As of last year, in addition to the front of shirts being sponsored, sleeves can now also be bought as advertising space. Money is king in football nowadays, which at this point is widely accepted. But what do the sponsors, who shell out these gargantuan fees, get out of it? 

The Premier League has a global audience of roughly 12 million people for the average game but when the fixture involves one or two of the top sides, this can stretch into the hundreds of millions, while being broadcast by more than 80 outlets in 212 territories worldwide. Advertisers have long seen the benefit of investing where football fans cast their eyes. Interestingly, there are also strong parallels between the advertised content and global marketing trends.

In the 1990s for example many a Premier League shirt was adorned with the name of an electronics manufacturer, coinciding with the electronics boom of that age. The global online betting market is booming right now, with projections of further growth, a trend is reflected in the makeup of current Premier League shirt sponsors.

Nine of the league’s twenty sides are currently sponsored by betting companies, with the flourishing industry largely abetted – pun intended – by gamblers downloading popular gambling app sites on their phones to have a flutter. Football and betting have become synonymous, with a recent study finding that gambling advertisement appeared 241 times and represented 30% of screen time during an average episode of Match of the Day. 

As a demographic, football viewership contains a large percentage of young men who are deemed likely to be impressionable to have fun with leading Betfred betting offers as it is now an integral part of the culture of the sport they love. Advertising in its simplest form is creating brand awareness amongst your target market. 

In that sense, there’s no better an advertising strategy if you’re a betting company than emblazoning your logo on the shirt of the product that you’re punters will actually bet on.

Genius.



Trend linking football sponsors and global markets shows how the betting industry is winning
Digital Mag

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