There’s no surer sign of an approaching football (soccer for you Yanks) season than the flurry of sponsorship deal announcements. Fresh off Thursday’s news of Bodog waking up in bed with Premier League stalwarts Arsenal, here’s a roundup of the latest football-betting marriages of convenience.
After announcing a deal with Premier League side Swansea City last month, Isle of Man-licensed SBOBET has become the official Asian betting partner of both Norwich City FC and Hull City AFC. To sum up, SBOBET now represents Swans, Canaries and Tigers, leaving just a dromedary and a pachyderm to complete its box of Premier League animal crackers.
Fellow Isle of Man licensee 188Bet has inked an international betting partnership with Manchester City FC. 188Bet already has a similar tie-up with Liverpool through the end of this coming season, while the Man City deal will extend until the end of the 2014-15 season. The team launched 10 foreign-language sites this summer, including Chinese, Indonesian, Malay and Thai versions on which 188Bet will enjoy a “strong presence.”
Over on the continent, Gala Coral subsidiary Eurobet has inked a deal to serve as title sponsor for Italy’s Lega Serie B. The one-year deal, which will see Eurobet’s logo emblazoned on the sleeves of all 22 clubs’ kit, became available following the withdrawal of former league sponsor Bwin, who have reduced their traditional omnipresence in European footie circles by moving away from jersey sponsorships to a less obvious (and less expensive) strategy of digital partnerships.
Irish betting outfit Paddy Power has set its sights a little lower, inking a typically cheeky deal with semi-pro squad Farnborough FC. Not only will the irreverent Paddsters get their logo on the Skrill Football Conference team’s kit and stadium signage, the stadium itself has been rechristened Paddy Power Park. Even more typical of Paddy pranks, several of the team’s heretofore unsung players have legally changed their names via deed poll to monikers a tad more familiar to footie fans, including Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona and Pele. Not to be outdone, the club’s manager has changed his name to José Mourinho, while assistant manager Leigh Dynan made the ultimate sacrifice by agreeing to be known as Paddy Power. (A decidedly not amused Farnborough supporter posted a comment on the club’s site that he would be changing his own name to ‘William Hill’ in protest.)
The link between athletics and gambling operators is a lot more controversial in Norway, where the country’s Olympic and Paralympic Committee has spoken out against individual athletes striking such sponsorship deals. The Committee issued a statement on July 29 saying athletes that accepted money from betting firms would be ineligible for financial assistance from the state and would be denied access to state-owned training facilities. The justification behind the statement is viewed as a defense of Norway’s state-owned gambling monopoly Norsk Tipping, which provides significant funding to the country’s sporting endeavors. Yo, Paddy… sounds like a golden opportunity to have the entire Norwegian luge team clad in neon green ‘lucky spandex’ in Sochi come February.