Twenty seasons ago not a single Premier League jersey carried the name of a gambling company now nine do. We trace the trends on the most cost-effective billboard you can buy and examine the impact sponsorship has
Fun88 is an online gaming business focused on the Asian market, owned by a holding company in the Isle of Man whose directors are residents of the City of Westminster. The brand offers the chance to play Kino, a kind of lottery popular in China, endless slot games (including one licensed from the film Bridesmaids) and, of course, in-play sports betting. This summer just gone, the firm agreed to become the shirt sponsor of Newcastle United for an undisclosed fee.
In 2017-18 gambling companies feature on the jerseys of nine Premier League clubs. It is a striking phenomenon that has drawn criticism from anti-gambling campaigners and the Labour party, which has called for such deals to be banned.
Ten years ago four Premier League clubs had gambling or casino companies on their shirts. If you grouped the sponsors by sector, gambling was still the most prominent, with financial services companies and consumer electronics brands the next most common, sponsoring three clubs apiece. In 1997-98, however, there were no gambling brands on shirts at all. That season shirt sponsors were led by software and IT companies (appearing on six in total), followed closely by consumer electronics (four). One club, West Ham United, had no sponsor.