Paddy Power takes aim at ‘the oil in loyal’ to mark Premier League return

Paddy Power takes aim at ‘the oil in loyal’ to mark Premier League return

Paddy Power’s latest marketing campaign to mark the return of Premier League football has taken aim at the phenomenon of ‘sportswashing’, with a particular dig at ‘oil money’ in the English top-flight.

Sportwashing has become a widely spoken term in the English lexicon in recent years amid a range of accusations of overseas governments using sport to whitewash allegations of human rights abuse and/or corruption.

This was particularly prevalent during the World Cup in Qatar last year, but has also become a talking point in English domestic football. The conversation escalated following the buyout of Newcastle United by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), and even more so this summer when high-profile players suddenly moved to the Saudi Pro League.

In the latest Paddy Power advert, a group of football fans – followers of an unnamed club apparently nicknamed ‘The Pigeons’ – are seen watching sports news in a pub where the TV programme is presented by long-term brand partner Peter Crouch, as one vocal supporter complains about the influence of oil money in the English game.

Just as the fan finishes his rant about how The Pigeons don’t need oil money because of the importance of their community, a fellow supporter enters the pub to inform everyone that the club has just been bought out. 

This prompts the entire boozer to erupt in song about the financial benefits of oil money before heading to buy their season tickets, only to find that the new popularity of The Pigeons means there is now a 12-year wait for stadium seats.

A Paddy Power spokesperson said: “Football has put the oil in loyal of late, with fans changing their tune faster than Jordan Henderson when a Saudi-backed billionaire rolls up in their gold-plated sports car to bankroll their morally bankrupt dreams. We couldn’t resist a sheikh-y dig at the utter absurdity of it all. And don’t even get me started on Jay-Z!”

Ultimately, perhaps the target of Paddy Power’s campaign is not the oil money itself, but the apparent hypocrisy of some football supporters. Whilst many fans complain about money’s supposed corrupting influence on the game, many are not exactly displeased when a wealthy new owner brings new players and trophies to their team.

To back its statement, the Flutter Entertainment bookmaker cited a study of 2,000 UK football fans showing that 64% ‘moan about a state-backed takeover’ but ultimately 84% would not stop supporting their club if a ‘nation-state sugar daddy romanced their club’.

However, 67% of surveyed football supporters did state that they are less interested in the sport due to its domination by clubs that spend vast amounts of money on players.

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