After a cheeky stunt in a pre-season friendly, Huddersfield Town Football Club have received a fine of £50,000 ($61,610) by the English Football Association for wearing a kit that breached advertising regulations.
The kit, which was worn for a single pre-season game against Rochdale, sported a large diagonal ‘sash’ design belonging to gambling firm Paddy Power across the shirt. However, in the official Football Association rules, the F.A. regulation C.2(i) states that advertising must consist of “one single area on the front of the shirt, not exceeding 250 square centimetres”. Clearly, a two-foot banner in bright green nudged past those boundaries a little.
Ironically, while Huddersfield will pay their fine, they had already removed the shirt sponsor, claiming that they will wear no sponsor on the front of their home shirts this season as a comment of the recent swathe of gambling firms advertising on football shirts and the potential issue that it provokes, linking gambling ever tighter to the game of football.
Half of the clubs in the English Premier League this season are sponsored by gambling firms, with 17 of the 24 teams in last season’s EFL Championship also touting the names of gambling brands across the front of their shirts. Of the current sides in the top two divisions, a massive 27 include a gambling sponsor somewhere on their shirts.
With Huddersfield’s stunt causing controversy at the time, one might argue that the following notoriety and social media virality more than paid back the advertiser for the single game of seeing their name on the shirts and no doubt there was a promotional element to the event.
All the attention hasn’t helped on-field matters, with Huddersfield mired in the relegation zone of this season’s Championship, having lost their last four games and gained only a single point from their first six fixtures.
Having admitted the charge, Huddersfield will continue to wear sponsor-free shirts this season. Quite how many sides follow suit remains to be seen, but with fellow Championship stragglers Derby County admitting that they owe some of the Wayne Rooney deal to their gambling sponsor 32Red, Championship sides in particular and football in general remain intrinsically linked to sites which encourage gambling on the results of the games played.
Paddy Power have been accused of exploiting from the stunt, despite selling the aforementioned shirts for £30,000 and donating the proceeds to charity. The brand has also repeated the trick with clubs such as Newport County, Motherwell and Southend United.