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EFL cause backlash from fans after issuing statement on Sky Bet partnership

The EFL cause backlash from fans after issuing a statement extending their partnership with Sky Bet as the title sponsors for another 5 years.

The EFL has agreed an extension to its deal with the bookmakers, meaning the leagues will continue to be named until at least 2029.

This comes after gambling charity ‘The Big Step’ called on EFL to end Sky Bet sponsorship after ‘reckless’ emails in 2021, as per the Daily Mail.

Sky Bet’s online casino, Sky Vegas, sent out a message offering ‘free spins’ to customers, as they also did those who had already opted out of receiving such marketing and had ‘self-excluded’ from betting sites altogether.

The UK’s Gambling Commission investigated the incident while gambling charity ‘The Big Step’ – a campaign to kick gambling advertising out of football – urged the EFL to ditch their headline sponsor.

Then in April 2023, a groundbreaking agreement saw Premier League clubs ban match-day front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with gambling companies from the summer of 2026.

This put more pressure on the EFL to take action.

The Big Step’s James Grimes, a recovering gambling addict, believes the clubs’ voluntary acceptance that things need to change represents an imperfect but important watershed.

“Although this outcome isn’t perfect, it’s a huge step,” said Grimes, as per The Guardian. “It’s a significant acceptance of the harm caused by gambling sponsorship. No gambling ads are seen more than those on Premier League shirts, worn by billions around the world. “

“Just moving logos to a different part of the kit while allowing pitchside advertising to continue is totally incoherent,” said Grimes. “The government and the sport itself now need to wake up to the reality that gambling ads are unhealthy, unpopular and will be kicked out of football. Delaying that moment is risking the health and lives of another generation of young fans.”

This was also backed up by Tony Bloom, the Brighton owner, who made a fortune from sports betting but endorsed the ban. “I don’t think having gambling sponsorship on shirts is good,” he said. “But I understand the gambling companies pay best so it’s a difficult decision for clubs to turn them down.”

EFL chairman Rick Parry said in 2022 that betting sponsorships were worth up to £40m a year to clubs as the league organisation ‘lacks the gargantuan international television deals enjoyed by the Premier League and argues that sum is imperative to its survival.’ Read more HERE.



The EFL and Sky Bet have agreed a record five-year partnership extension that will see the sports betting and gaming company continue as the League’s title partner until the end of the 2028/29 campaign.

Building on a decade-long partnership, the new rights fee represents a 50% increase from Sky Bet, providing significant revenues for EFL Clubs and support for the League’s overriding objective to make Clubs financially sustainable across all divisions.

The deal will also see Sky Bet invest £1 million per season and £6 million in total into a Community Fund held by the EFL to be invested into communities across England and Wales where EFL Clubs are located. The EFL and Sky Bet will use the funding to deliver activity via the EFL Trust and the network of Club Community Organisations (CCOs), with the initiatives in focus to be mutually agreed by the organisations.

First agreed in 2013, the Sky Bet partnership represents one of the longest and most significant in UK professional sport. Under the new extension, the partnership will continue to be built around safer gambling, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that sets out how to deliver joint objectives in a socially responsible way.

The MoU will continue to put the protection of children and other vulnerable individuals at its heart, with both the EFL and Sky Bet making a renewed commitment to its approach in the promotion of the product.

Examples within the MoU include:

  • Sky Bet will not actively market themselves or their products in family areas of Club stadiums or advertise to young fans.
  • The EFL will dedicate a proportion of its central inventory to promote safer gambling messaging and support Sky Bet’s safer gambling campaigns.
  • Sky Bet will fund a player education programme across the EFL’s 72 Clubs that will focus on the potential dangers of gambling and provide support and advice.

Both the EFL and Sky Bet will share learnings and insight from the partnership with Government, other sports and sector stakeholders to help inform the new sports sponsorship Code of Conduct, which is being developed in accordance with the Gambling Act Review White Paper’s proposals.

As part of the agreement, Sky Bet will continue as Official Title Partner of the Sky Bet EFL and Sky Bet Play-Offs on a worldwide basis. Sky Bet will also have rights to award the official Manager, Player and Goal of the Month awards, as well as the seasonal ‘Golden Boot’ and ‘Golden Glove’ awards in each division.

Commenting, 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.”

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.

“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.”

As mentioned, EFL cause backlash from fans after issuing a statement on their Sky Bet partnership…

@JohnKaysCanoe: Excellent. More wall to wall gambling sponsorship.

@TractorboyAnt: And there was me thinking that football was moving away from sponsorship from gambling firms.

@DavidJa16956153: Disgusting

@JasonRees7: Lol lots of clubs moving away from betting businesses yet this lot move closer 🙄

@nodgers: Not really the message the EFL should be sending out. Should be in solidarity with the premier league against betting sponsors

@saunasean: So footballers are bared from any gambling activity but it’s perfectly acceptable for their governing body to enter into financial partnerships with bookmakers 🤔

@PrivateRanter: What odds can I get on this agreement being cut short by the govt introducing legislation that prevents all advertising of gambling companies?

@adam_musgrave: PL Clubs were told they’re not allowed betting firms on shirt sponsorship deals any more from 2026. But it seems the EFL is above this!

@questicus: Beer is bad but degenerate gambling organisations are ok 😂

@OliMGraham: Nice to know gambling addictions will be promoted heavily for the next few years in the EFL, classy move

@mikey10907: Premier league cutting betting sponsors, toneys massive fa suspension and you lot sign a 5 year deal. EFL showing they have no morals and no clue once again. Shouldn’t even be surprised at this point

@MooseLikeJagger: Clubs are not allowed sponsors on the front of their shirts, yet it’ll be on their sleeves and every single league branding out there. Hypocrisy at its finest

@BillyJumble: More gambling sponsorship.. Terrible, terrible decision.

@OliverRMills: I wish you hadn’t. Football has got to break the hold gambling companies have over it. There are thousands of U/18 season ticket holders and you’re continuing to allow SkyBet to normalise an adult activity and effectively market gambling to children.

@MartyPkane: It’s a real shame that football is such an unpopular and niche pursuit, and one so short of money, that there’s no alternative than to accept the gambling £

@StonnerGladwell: English football should be better then this

@glennebrey: Eight-month ban for Ivan Toney, five-year deal with the bookies for EFL. Something isn’t quite right there, is it?

@pete_straw: You should be ashamed of yourselves. Gambling ruins lives, the PL is clamping down on it, but you’ve decided to cash in. Shameless.

@emptylakes: So tone deaf

@DJChizzles: Football has a gambling problem and it thinks it’s a good idea to continue using gambling companies for money…

@Suzysue8: We’re worried about gambling and the effect on mental health but let’s get them to sponsor us for another 5 years! Well played @EFL 🤯🤯🤯

@daniel14f1: Betting shirt sponsoring will be banned soon but a betting company still sponsoring three leagues is still okay? Money talks.

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