Last week, Fitzdares extended its partnership with Fulham FC, continuing as the club’s official UK betting partner, but with a noticeable difference to other Premier League bookmaker deals – the absence of any prominent shirt branding.
William Woodhams, Fitzdares’ CEO, spoke to SBC News about what this partnership means for the company, and the significance of cross-engagement within the different sports it sponsors.
Fitzdares’ deal with the top-flight side – both based in West London – saw the opening of a new club lounge with the bookmaker’s ‘unique’ style incorporated throughout, following what was described as a highly successful partnership during the 2022/23 season.
Why does Fitzdares focus primarily on creating unique experiences at grounds rather than the more standard route of shirt/stadium sponsorship and signage?
We have blanket signage at both Windsor and Fulham and it’s great but it doesn’t move the marketing needle. Having somewhere to host at both (we have a pub and a club at Windsor) gives us a chance to spend time with our members.
Also, the PR angle represents our brand perfectly. It’s all about the mix – you are very lazy if you just advertise and play some weird numbers game. You need to get your feet wet with sponsorship – the venues love it.
How significant is having a permanent location at a Premier League ground for Fitzdares’ marketing and engagement?
It’s massive. No one has ever built their members club in a Premier League club. Fulham are one of the first clubs to realise it’s not just about whacking a logo on the shirt and paying £10m. Those days are over and the well in Europe at least has dried.
Fulham are offering integrated campaigns that reach much further and work much harder. Brands want to see more return and that needs a new approach. The club is great for both of us. An amazing place for Fulham’s other sponsors to hang out and great for our private office and club member’s to go.
The opening of the Fulham lounge follows the opening of the Fitzdares pub at Royal Windsor. What value does operating premises such as these have for a bookmaker like Fitzdares?
It’s so much better than a branding board. It’s a true reflection of our brand and ethos and lots and lots of fun.
You described last year’s partnership with Fulham as ‘highly successful’. Can you explain why this was the case and how do you aim to replicate it this year?
They bent over backwards for us. In racing sometimes you don’t feel very special – the industry is used to bookies paying for everything. In football they know their value and they love retaining sponsors – especially as we cannot use players anymore. So they go the extra mile.
How important is the association with Fulham for both Fitzdares’ identity as a bookmaker and the company’s West London roots?
People accuse both Fulham and Fitzdares as being a bit posh. We’re not posh, we just enjoy the finer things in life and great sport in comfort. Away fans love a trip to Craven cottage as the seats are wide, the beer cold and the pie’s home-made! The food, staff and drink at Fulham would put all the major racecourses and sports arenas to shame (with the exception of Wimbledon fortnight).
Can the showcasing of major horse racing fixtures at football venues, as Fitzdares plans to do with its Fulham lounge, play a role in boosting much-needed interest in racing?
We are planning a horse racing syndicate with Fulham fans. I loved racing as a child, it’s such a safe atmosphere and so exciting and Fulham is the same with young fans. Anything we can do to get younger people into racing must be a positive. It’s not about betting, the two sports have so much in common.
Plans also include ‘the occasional darts exhibition’. Do you see a lot of cross engagement between your football and darts betting audiences?
YES! We host an exhibition every year with our darts ambassadors before Ally Pally. We are hoping to move it this year to the away changing room at Fulham. If you love sport, you love darts. You would be surprised at how popular it is. We once took a billionaire businessman to Ally Pally and he cried he was so happy.
Fitzdares is of course an international bookmaker, active in Ontario. What scope do you see for similar partnerships in this market?
We can announce that we are building a Fitzdares Club at the Royal Horse show in Toronto in November, our second pop-up club in the city. I’m actively on the hunt for a club in the City. We are also moving our London location in the new year – watch this space!