Aston Villa has announced a multi-year partnership with BK8 which will see the online betting operator front the Premier League club’s shirts as its primary sponsor.
The three-year deal will last until the end of the 2025/26 league season, which will coincide with the enforcement of the recently agreed upon league-wide ban on gambling front-of-shirt sponsorships.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Aston Villa and BK8 have committed to giving back to local charities.
BK8 EMEA Managing Director Michael Gatt said: “We are really delighted to be able to announce our support for local charities as part of our exciting new partnership with Aston Villa.
“Being able to give something back to the supporters for their dedication is a hugely significant part of the reason we want to be involved with a prestigious institution, which is what Aston Villa Football Club are.
“As a brand working in football for the last few years, we have committed to working closely with our partners’ local community initiatives and ensure we continue our commitment to delivering on our ambitions in this area.
“Over the next three years of this deal we will work tirelessly to make an impact in this area with a number of programmes across the region that engage with Villa supporters locally but also on a global scale.”
Aston Villa’s third kit will see BK8 make a contribution per adult third shirt sold to a local charity in Birmingham. The move comes off the back of BK8’s previous work with charities and programmes involving mental health awareness over the past two years, and this initiative is the first of what will be a number of collaborations with the Club.
The announcement comes as the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust pleaded with the club to not sign a sponsorship deal with BK8 after the gambling firm was removed as Norwich City’s sponsor over oversexualised marketing campaigns in June 2021.
It was revealed by the Supporters’ Trust last January that they felt ‘misled’ after then Aston Villa Chief Executive Christian Purslow assured fans that gambling companies will not be unveiled as the club’s principal sponsor.
Aston Villa Supporter’s Trust released a statement last January in the midst of news the club were pursuing an agreement with BK8, stating: “While the club has acknowledged supporter concerns to the potential sponsor, we have not received any explanation or clarification of the deal. We remind them of their duty to protect fans from the harms of gambling and to not bring its name or reputation into disrepute.
“Sadly, this incident is not the first occasion upon which the club has entered into a controversial sponsorship arrangement. It is unlikely to be the last unless the club urgently acknowledges the issues mentioned in this statement and, without delay, re-evaluates its agreement with BK8.”