The English Football League (EFL) has renewed its long-running and high-profile sponsorship arrangement with Sky Bet. However, the partnership extension has come with some new caveats to reflect a new marketing and compliance landscape.
Core terms of the deal have extended the partnership for a further five years, following an initial 10-year cooperation between the Flutter Entertainment brand the league, which consists of the Championship, League One and League Two.
Sky Bet will continue as the title sponsor of the EFL and its three leagues from the 2023/24 to 2028/29 campaigns. In the aftermath of the Gambling Act review White Paper and the Premier League’s vote on shirt sponsorships, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed on social responsibility as part of the partnership.
Steve Birch, Sky Bet Chief Commercial Officer, said: “I’m extremely proud of Sky Bet’s ongoing partnership with the EFL and delighted to have reached today’s agreement. Football is central to who we are and it’s great to be able to support the game and provide investment for Clubs across the Pyramid.
“I’m particularly delighted that we can go one step further today with the announcement of our Sky Bet EFL Community Fund, seeking to make a real difference for people across England and Wales.
“As the recent Sky Bet Play-Off Finals demonstrated, the EFL is going from strength to strength with packed grounds and millions watching games here in the UK and around the world.”
Specifics of the RG MoU include a commitment from Sky Bet not to market its brand or products in the family areas of club stadiums or advertise to young football fans. This commitment falls in line with one of the terms of the Gambling Act review’s proposed Code of Conduct on sports sponsorships.
Additionally, the brand will contribute to a player education programme coordinated by the EFL’s 72 clubs focusing on the dangers of gambling and providing advice. For its part, the EFL will dedicate a ‘proportion of its central inventory’ to promoting safer gambling messaging and its bookmaker partner’s RG campaigns.
Birch continued: “We are absolutely committed to Safer Gambling, and I’m delighted that our partnership with the EFL shows how responsible betting and gaming operators, and sporting organisations can work together to promote safer gambling and tackle the issue of gambling harm.”
Additional details will see Sky Bet invest £1m per season to the Community Fund referred to by Birch, for a total of £6m across the partnership’s full five year run. This will be invested into local communities and deliver activities via the EFL Trust and Club Community Organisations (CCOs) network.
Having first been signed in 2013, the partnership between Sky Bet and the EFL is one of the most prominent in English sports sponsorships.
Despite political pressure during the course of the Gambling Act review to end the sponsorship – EFL Chairman Rick Parry was issued a letter by MPs calling for such a move – the EFL appears to have been undeterred.
Trevor Birch, EFL Chief Executive, said: “For over a decade, Sky Bet has been a valuable partner for EFL Clubs, offering sustained investment to help Clubs navigate a volatile financial landscape and ensure fans can enjoy fantastic footballing entertainment in every corner of the country.
“We have consistently seen our partnership evolve to move with the times and with community at the heart of the EFL, a new community investment fund is perfectly aligned and will help strengthen the partnership’s commitment to social responsibility.
“The Government’s recent Gambling White Paper highlighted the social responsibility measures that have accompanied our partnership with Sky Bet as being an example of good practice for the wider sports sector to learn from and we will look to deepen our commitment to the promotion of safer gambling as part of this extension.
“On behalf of our Clubs we thank Sky Bet for its ongoing support to English football and we look forward to seeing our much-loved competition develop yet further with the additional certainty this investment provides.”