Steve Birch: Sky Bet’s EFL partnership ‘most significant’ in world of sport

Sky Bet’s long-term partnership with the English Football League (EFL) has been described as one of the ‘most significant’ in the world of professional sports by the group’s CEO Steve Birch.

Writing on the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) website, he suggested that the deal,  which was first established in 2013, has mostly revolved around advertising with a specific focus on promoting safer gambling messages and tools.

The company made 70% of its EFL-related advertising inventory specifically looking at customer protection, and Birch explained: “These messages are seen at every single EFL match – from the sleeve badges on the players to the perimeter boards and LED displays surrounding the pitch. 

Steve Birch of Sky Bet

“Our focus this season has been to use these assets to encourage the use of deposit limits as well as promote ‘TalkBanStop’ – a joint initiative by GamCare, Gamban and GamStop that explains the practical steps to take when tackling gambling harm. 

“As part of our support, one of the nine minutes we are granted in digital advertising per EFL match is now reserved to promote this impactful campaign.”

Furthermore, Birch described another key area as the work of EPIC Risk Management, which is an independent harm minimisation consultancy in the UK that Sky Bet has a partnership with to educate players and staff about gambling-related harm. 

“The aim of this bespoke training is to ensure players understand the potential risks associated with gambling, the rules around betting integrity, and know how to look out for signs of potential harm in their teammates,” Birch continued.

“We are now in our fourth year of delivering this education and awareness programme – one of the largest ever conducted in world sport – and are committed to ensuring it remains relevant, effective, and far-reaching moving forward.”

Additionally, the company is looking to utilise its digital marketing and content creation capabilities in a bid to connect EFL fans with football personalities and provide behind-the-scenes access to clubs. 

Birch added: “Whether it is Jimmy Bullard fly-fishing with EFL legends such as Ian Holloway on Instagram or deep analysis of how Brentford’s transfer model propelled them into the Premier League on YouTube, we want to create content that football fans can enjoy without ever being encouraged to bet. 

“There will be plenty more of this in the New Year, with exciting campaigns featuring some of UK football’s biggest names and smallest clubs.

Despite the pandemic, Birch stated that the long-standing relationship ‘powered through’ with support from its partners, adding: “I know that everyone at Sky Bet is proud to stand alongside the organisation and all its clubs this season and next, and hope to continue our journey for many more years to come.

“I have proudly watched this partnership flourish into one of the longest and most significant in professional sport.”

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