Sponsorship set to be canceled
English soccer club Everton F.C. is set to end its shirt sponsorship with Kenyan gambling firm SportPesa at the end of the season.
Everton signed a five-year deal with the sports betting operator in 2017. The deal is believed to be worth £7m ($9.1m) per season. However, the club has decided to terminate this contract two years early amid growing pressure on soccer clubs being linked with gambling companies.
Everton signed a five-year deal with the sports betting operator in 2017
According to The Guardian, Everton’s decision to end the sponsorship deal with SportPesa follows a review of the club’s commercial operations, which was led by CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale.
At an annual general meeting last month, Barrett-Baxendale is reported to have said that “in an ideal world” the soccer club would have a “different type of sponsor” than the gambling company.
An Everton spokesperson said that the club would like to thank SportPesa for all the work that has been done, including strengthening their “special relationship” with Africa, adding: “This has been a difficult decision but one that allows us to best deliver on our commercial plan and to grasp the new opportunities now open to us.”
Promoting a good cause instead
In what has been described as a one-off move, Everton used its last home game against Crystal Palace this month to promote a good cause on shirts instead of SportPesa.
Taking advantage of a single match in a season, the soccer club showcased its “Everton in the Community” programme across the player’s blue shirts. In an opinion piece published by The Guardian, David Conn noted that the step taken by Everton “looked right” and was a “clear solution to two major challenges for the Premier League.”
This move by Everton follows amid increasing dialogue about the risks associated with links between soccer and gambling.
Last month, it was reported that a UK parliamentary hearing was determining whether soccer clubs in the country should be sponsored by gambling companies. However, while Richard Masters, the newly-appointed Premier League CEO, is in favor of a review, he isn’t in favor of a ban.
Masters said: “I think this area does need stronger governance, particularly to protect the vulnerable. I don’t think the answer coming out at the end of it should be that football clubs shouldn’t have shirts sponsored by gambling companies anymore.”