How many Leeds fans truly pay attention to what is on their shirt? Does the fact that the famous white jersey has 32Red adorned on it make Leeds fans feel an affiliation with that brand? There are now 13 of 24 Championship sides wearing casino or bookmakers’ logos on their shirts. It is all the more remarkable that over half of clubs are wearing gambling sponsorship when you consider that in 2008/09 season not a single Championship club did so. Incidentally, trivia buffs might want to know that the only club to retain the same sponsorship in that nine-year period is Ipswich (Marcus Evans).
Of course, 32 Red is not the first time Leeds were sponsored by a gambling company, as most fans will remember the Bet24 shirt from the 2006/07 season. Yes, the one where Leeds finished 24th. After a bit of research, it is not quite clear if Bet24 exists anymore. They seem to have been acquired by Unibet in 2012 and absorbed into their network. Unibet now sponsors Aston Villa, so, in a way, the glorious majesty of Leeds’ Bet24 shirt lives on. They better hope that the shirt doesn’t bring them the same ‘fortune’ as it did Leeds.
Gambling logos have by and large replaced alcohol brands in English football
Anyway, gambling sponsorship in the Championship is incredibly ubiquitous. There are even three gambling companies who sponsor two teams each: 888 (Birmingham and Nottingham Forest), Leo Vegas (Brentford and Norwich) and Tempobet (Burton and Preston North End). If you are looking for ‘a twin’ for your current Leeds jersey, you might want to head to Glasgow and buy a 32Red-adorned Rangers shirt.
The Championship is not alone in having a huge range of gambling companies on their shirts. The Premier League has ten of the 20 clubs wearing gambling/betting brands on their shirts. Even clubs like Liverpool (Bet Victor) and Manchester United (Marathon), who don’t have it on their main shirt, will have it on a training kit of some sort. Something to note here actually, sponsorship doesn’t necessarily equate to better odds – Bet Victor go 9/1 that Liverpool win the Champions League this season, when they are widely found at 12/1 with other bookmakers.
Premiership’s wider audience encourages international betting brands
The Premier League sponsorship is also interesting because many of the brands would be unrecognisable to the average English football fan. The likes of Le Tou (Swansea City, who used to have 32Red), ManBet X (Crystal Palace) and Fun88 (Newcastle) are not your typical high-street bookies and are more likely aimed at overseas fans.
Betway have probably done the best job in terms of marketing with West Ham, as they are arguably the betting brand most synonymous with their club. Their loyalty to the Hammers might be tested next season though, as David Moyes’ men look a solid bet (check their fixture list and you’ll see why) at odds of 9/4 to be relegated. If you want to use their own brand to back them for the drop, come this way for a Betway free bet offer for sports betting.
The betting logos might not be around in a few years’ time
It is not abundantly clear whether this gambling-brand driven sponsorship will continue in future. There is a lot of talk about a clampdown, not just on sponsorship, but on the liberalisation of the betting industry in general. It could be that things like the ‘Sky Bet’ Championship and your ‘32Red’ Leeds jersey become relics of the past like the ‘Embassy’ World Snooker Championship.