“Sport and gambling have a long association” was the message from Richard Masters in his first media interview since taking over as the Premier League’s chief executive.

He intends to cooperate with the government’s review into gambling legislation, but said he would resist any sort of ban on betting companies being kit sponsors. Currently 10 of the league’s 20 clubs have a gambling company as their main shirt sponsor.

Masters defended his position by highlighting the history between sports and gambling and said that “we’re certainly not sniffy about it; it’s up to our clubs whether they want to have their own gambling relationships.”

The Premier League does not have an official gambling partner.

Premier League teams with betting shirt sponsors

Football ClubShirt Sponsor
West Ham UnitedBetway
Everton FCSportPesa
Wolverhampton Wanderers FCManBetX
BurnleyLoveBet
Crystal PalaceManBetX
Newcastle UnitedFun88
WatfordSportsbet.io
Aston VillaW88
AFC BournemouthM88
Norwich CityDafabet

West Ham United have the most lucrative betting sponsorship deal – they made £10 million from their partnership with Betway in the 2019/20 season. Manchester United have the highest value non-gambling kit sponsorship deal at £64 million with Chevrolet (source).

Stronger governance is needed

The UK government have committed to reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act – a piece of legislation created by the then-labour government that relaxed many of the strict rules surround the gambling industry. Since that time critics have become increasingly concerned about the “gamblification” of football, especially when it comes to exposing children and vulnerable adults to excessive gambling advertising.

Masters said: “We’ll be welcome participants in that… 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, but… we will certainly cooperate with the review.”

Other challenges

As well as gambling controversy, Masters also addressed the frustration shared by fans and players around VAR recently introduced technology.

“I don’t think you can have VAR without acknowledging that [delay] is going to happen. In essence, if you have all goals reviewed, you know VAR is going to deliver a slightly different experience. The question for the organisation, competition and the clubs is whether that trade-off is worth it.”

He also mentioned the possibility of reviewing the off-side rule.