SPFL on the hunt for new sponsor as Ladbrokes deal nears end

15 August 2019

GVC Holdings' decision to move away from sports sponsorship will see its Labdrokes brand's sponsorship of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) expire at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Ladbrokes has been title sponsor of Scotland’s four professional leagues since the 2015-16 season, but will not renew the agreement. The brand has already been replaced on interview backdrops and pitchside hoardings with branding for GambleAware's Bet Regret campaign.

The deal was the largest sponsorship deal in the history of Scottish league football, and the SPFL has begun its search for a replacement.

“We have enjoyed a very positive relationship with the SPFL and all the clubs involved and would like to thank them for their support and hard work in making this sponsorship such a success over the last few years,” Ladbrokes managing director for retail, Mark Chambers, said.

SPFL chief executive, Neil Doncaster, added: “We’re proud of the tremendous partnership we’ve enjoyed with Ladbrokes since 2015 and, given the growth of Scottish football over the past four years, with seasonal crowds up almost 20% to 4.9m, we’re in great shape to attract significant interest from new sponsors, both nationally and internationally.

“We’ll no doubt have strong interest from potential title sponsors in light of the unrivalled level of nationwide coverage, passion and drama that the SPFL consistently delivers, plus our live TV coverage confirmed up to 2025, and we expect a busy period of discussions over the coming months.”

The move comes after GVC in April announced it would not renew any advertising partnerships with football clubs, ending all shirt sponsorship and pitchside advertising deals. It has since donated its exchange betting brand Betdaq's shirt sponsorship deal with English League One club Sunderland to the Children with Cancer UK charity.

All other sponsorship deals with football clubs, alongside the SPFL sponsorship, have been donated to problem gambling charity GambleAware and its Bet Regret awareness-raising campaign. This sees any place where GVC brands would have appeared, such as pitchside hoardings and interview backdrops, replaced with the Bet Regret logo.

This forms part of its wider ‘Changing for the Bettor’ social responsiblity initiative, which sees the operator invest in responsible gaming technology, support research and introduce new, voluntary controls across the business to ensure it operates in a fair and sustainable manner. Having been a key supporter of the so-called whistle to whistle advertising ban that came into effect from the start of the 2019-20 football season, it has gone on to call for a blanket ban on sportsbook advertising on UK TV channels.

Along with bet365, Flutter Entertainment (owner of Paddy Power and Betfair), Sky Betting and Gaming, and William Hill it has committed to raising the current voluntary contribution towards funding problem gambling from 0.1% to 1% of gross gambling yield by 2023. This will see the five contribute £60m per year to problem gambling funding by 2023.

Each brand will also provide regular updates on efforts to improve customer safeguards, and have committed to adding more responsible gaming messaging to advertising and share problem gambling data

Earlier today (August 15), GVC also announced its results for the first six months of 2019, during which net gaming revenue climbed 5% year-on-year to £1.81bn (€1.96bn/$2.19bn).

Image: Brian Hargadon