SBC News ‘We’ve got to deal with gambling’ - SPFL sponsor decision criticised by ex-First Minister

‘We’ve got to deal with gambling’ – SPFL sponsor decision criticised by ex-First Minister

After last week’s announcement that Premier League football clubs are to remove gambling brands from the front of their matchday shirts, reports suggest that there are “no plans” for Scotland to follow its English counterpart.

The ban will come into place from the start of the 2026/27 season for the English top-flight, but BBC Scotland has learnt that the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) hold the view of “individual sponsorships are a matter for each club”.

The league said: “For many SPFL clubs, sponsorship from gambling companies is a significant source of income which helps to support their business models and enables investment in many of the important community activities which clubs undertake.”

The conclusion of the ban would have alerted the likes of Celtic, which currently has Dafabet on the front of its shirts, Rangers, which has two gambling shirt partners – Kindred Group’s 32Red and Unibet brands – and Dundee United with QuinnCasino.

Former Scottish First Minister, Henry McLeish, has said that he is “disappointed” at the SPFL’s response.

“What I’ve suggested is we have a phased programme to say look, let’s look for good sponsors, let’s look for sponsors that relate to what we’re trying to do in football,” he said on Good Morning Scotland.

“It’s just laziness. I believe that, looking at the finances, yes it can’t happen tomorrow or the next year or the next year, but let’s have a phased programme to look at the implications of alcohol and gambling.

“We dealt with tobacco, now we’ve got to deal with alcohol, now we’ve got to deal with gambling.”

For now, English Premier League teams are able to continue featuring betting brands on shirtsleeves and LED advertising, and are also allowed to secure new shirt-front gambling sponsorship until the ban officially starts.

Currently, eight Premier League clubs have shirt sponsorship agreements with gambling operators, such as Leeds United, Newcastle United, and Brentford, whilst Aston Villa has signed an agreement with BK8 to commence next season. 

After reaching out to Leeds United’s front-of-shirt betting partner, SBOTOP, SBC learned that the firm hopes to ‘still be part of the Leeds PL story – with whom we have had an excellent relationship – going forward’.

In its statement, the Premier League itself  did not specify whether its phase-out would relate to other forms of sponsorship and marketing partnerships with bookmakers.

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