France’s Paris Saint-Germain F.C. has signed sports betting company Unibet as its official betting partner for the next two seasons.
According to French sports paper L’Equipe, the contract with the Kindred Group-owned betting company is worth a reputed €1.5m ($1.74m; £1.32m) a year and – according to Mathieu Drida, Kindred’s France general manager – will “Offer consumers exclusive content that takes them as close as possible to the game”.
Paris Saint-Germain, currently owned by the ruling family of Qatar, finished last season as the winner of France’s Ligue 1 and seem destined to win the league for the foreseeable future. Not everything in the garden is rosy, however. Success in the Champions League has so far proved elusive, and this year it will be up to new manager Thomas Tuchel to improve on a disappointing record. Previous manager Unai Emery has departed for the Arsenal dug-out and the ultimate challenge of finishing above North London rivals, Spurs.
But it is off the pitch the PSG has its real problems as it struggles to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations following the world record signing of Neymar from Barcelona. It’s rumored that PSG needs to raise €60m ($70m; £52.6m) to avoid UEFA sanctions, so even the €1.5m ($1.74m; £1.32m) from Unibet will help.
The agreement will see Unibet secure branding rights at PSG’s Parc des Princes stadium and, presumably, digital collaborations as well. With Unibet seeing 70% of its online bets coming from soccer, the link with PSG makes sound commercial sense, although it has to be said that Ligue 1 is not one of Europe’s most widely watched leagues.
But the Premier League is…
The link between PSG and Unibet is part and parcel of the seemingly ever-closer ties between European soccer and online sports betting companies. England’s Premier League champion, Manchester City, has just announced a “multi-year” tie-up with Marathon Bet, making the company its “official global betting partner”. Look forward to Marathon Bet logos in the background every time Pep Guardiola or one of the City players is interviewed.
Neither are the links confined to the big boys in the Champions League. Premier League newcomers Wolves recently announced its “most lucrative sponsorship deal” with Far Eastern betting operator W88, and Championship hopefuls Aston Villa – another club struggling with FFP issues – has recently signed 32Red as its shirt sponsor, despite the company receiving a hefty fine for failing to protect a problem gambler.
For now, the relationship between soccer teams and the betting companies seems mutually beneficial. Whether it stays that way remains to be seen: there are plenty of politicians across Europe who do not favor such outright promotion of gambling. You also wonder if the EU competition authorities might at some point question all these “exclusive agreements”.