Sponsorship and football go together like Simon Mignolet’s hand in his goalkeeping glove. Essential for keeping the money flowing through the sport, sponsorship, together with TV rights, accounts for the vast proportion of revenues generated by individual clubs.
So no surprise then that when there’s talk of a new high profile sponsor, fans have their own opinions. The latest rather strange sponsorship story to hit the Premier League are the rumours about a new shirt and stadium sponsor for Liverpool FC. The Merseysiders, still one of the most marketable football brands in England, Europe and indeed the wider world, have been linked to a sponsorship proposal from Israel.
Yes, you read that correctly - the state of Israel is rumoured to have a strong interest in agreeing terms with the Anfield club.
Most fans are already familiar with airline sponsorship, gambling sponsorship, financial services and other sectors. But a fully-fledged state sponsoring a football club would certainly ruffle a few feathers. According to these rumours, the contract would be highly lucrative, and would see the Liverpool team donning shirts with the logo of the state of Israel in place of their shirt sponsor, as well as adorning billboard and advertising hoardings around the ground.
While the news has been met with some surprise and scepticism on the streets of Liverpool, the rumours continue to circulate in media across the Middle East, leading some to wonder whether there might be more than a grain of truth in the story. If the deal does eventually take shape, it would pave the way for a partnership that would effectively see Liverpool FC promoting and supporting tourism to Israel. It has even been suggested that players would be taken to Israel on tour themselves, as part of any arrangement that may be in the pipeline.
Whether the Liverpool sponsorship deal transpires is another matter altogether, and at this stage it remains just a rumour, if not an intriguing story. But it’s not one of a kind, and there are rumours swirling around a number of other clubs, in relation to major casino groups who are expressing interest in the sport.
Gambling Sponsorship in Football
Gambling sponsorship is already on the rise in football, with over 50% of Premier League teams carrying gambling related sponsors in the 2016-2017 season for the first time. Now, there are rumours swirling around whether certain casino groups may be preparing to take further steps towards tying up the available opportunities for sponsorship within the league.
On the face of it, casinos and betting operators linking up with Premier League clubs makes perfect sense. It allows the sponsor to reach into their key demographics, and to build positive relationships that can be to the commercial advantage of both parties. At the same time, clubs obviously welcome the support, in an era where having the right commercial partners is almost equally as important as having the right players.
Some casino groups are even rumoured to be interested in getting more involved with football than simply sponsoring shirts, and fans and pundits alike are now considering the very real possibility of a future where upwards pressure from gambling companies drives sponsorship values to a whole new level. But some in the industry have been quick to quash these rumours.
Tony Drewer, spokesperson for industry leader Party Live Casino said these rumours should be taken with a pinch of salt. “The Liverpool story makes for good headlines, but it remains unclear whether this will ever get off the ground. As for casino interest in football clubs, I can confirm there are no plans at the moment for Party Live Casino to take on any further high profile football sponsorship deals. While there are obvious synergies with our business, we’re reviewing our sponsorship options all the time, and have no plans in place at present to move forward with any major football clubs.”
While Party Live Casino have ruled themselves out, that’s not to say some of the other big names in the industry won’t get on board. While it’s still impossible to verify the accuracy of any of these rumours, it’s still a case of watch this space for fans and industry commentators alike.
So will we see the flag of Israel flying over Anfield, or further tie ins with major casino brands in the Premier League? Time will tell. But one things for certain - the big money business of sponsorship is here to stay for the foreseeable future.