Spanish Soccer Clubs Told to Cancel Gambling Sponsorships by End of Season

  • The transition period for cancelling gambling sponsorships ends in May 2021
  • Currently, seven of the 20 teams in La Liga have gambling sponsors
  • La Liga’s president estimates that clubs will lose out on €90m because of the ban
  • The Royal Decree on Advertising also restricts other forms of gambling-related marketing
Roque Mesa of Sevilla FC mid-kick
Soccer clubs in Spain have until the end of the season to cancel their current sponsorship deals with gambling companies in order to remain in compliance with an upcoming royal decree. [Image:]

An upcoming ban

Soccer clubs in Spain have to cancel their gambling-related sponsorship deals before the end of the current season, as new gambling advertising restrictions are set to take effect.

Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzon signed a letter sent to professional soccer clubs on Wednesday which outlines the transition period for the sponsorship ban. As soon as the new royal decree gets approval in a cabinet meeting and is written into law, the sponsorship rule will become official. 

The transition period will end when the 2020-21 soccer season concludes in May 2021. Despite the incoming ban that covers all sports, a number of soccer teams signed new gambling sponsorship deals in recent months.

serious health and social risks which need to be minimized in the field of advertising”

The letter said that gambling companies sponsoring athletes and teams have “contributed to normalizing a practice with serious health and social risks which need to be minimized in the field of advertising.” 

Over the past four years, the percentage of young people who gamble has gone up from 29% to 40%. The total money spent on gambling by young people in the nation has also increased by 13% annually. 

Financial issues

Currently, seven of the 20 teams that play in Spain’s top soccer division have gambling company sponsors. This includes six-time La Liga champion Valencia and the current Europa League champion Sevilla. 

Soccer clubs have been struggling financially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With stadiums empty because of health restrictions, the president of Valencia CF, Anil Murthy, estimates that the pandemic has cost the club about €100m ($117.5m) in revenue. 

La Liga president Javier Tebas opposes the royal decree to end gambling sponsorships. On Monday, he stated that clubs would lose out on a total of €90m ($105.7m) as a result of the ban. Tebas said that the league is attempting to extend the transition period to three years to give teams more time to prepare for the change. 

Incoming legislation

The new changes to gambling-related advertising are set to come into effect within weeks as part of the Royal Decree on Advertising. As part of the new rules, gambling-reated television ads may only air from 1am to 5am. 

There is also a ban on other forms of gambling advertising, including restrictions on the types of bonus deals that online operators can offer. These changes were initially intended to be temporary pandemic measures, but are now permanent requirements. 

The next stage of gambling reforms in Spain will see the launch of a new federal self-exclusion registry that will encompass all of the autonomous communities in the country. There are also concerns about rising rates of video game addiction in the country, but no action plan is in place yet to tackle this issue.

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