When you think of football these days, one of the first things you think about is money. And when you think of money in football, one of the first things you think about is betting.
Yes, the two have become so intertwined in recent years and it’s a relationship that is certainly benefiting both parties.
It’s been a relationship that has grown significantly over the past 15 years, although betting has long had its foot in the football door with bookmakers taking bets for generations.
So why have they got so close?
One of the major steps bookmakers, and in particularly online bookmakers, have taken in recent years is the sponsorship of teams.
The first occurred way back in the 2002/03 season when Betway became the first gambling shirt sponsor in the Premier League, when they took on Fulham. Since then the number has grown significantly, to the point where now 10 of the 20 teams have a gambling brand on their shirt, including West Ham who are currently sponsored by Betway.
The deal is considered to be the biggest of the teams outside the top six sides and even the big teams such as Manchester United and Chelsea have official betting partners.
That has resonated through the Championship too, with a high proportion of clubs in the division enjoying sponsorship from betting firms, while even the Northern Premier, Isthmian League and Southern League currently have a sponsorship deal with Ladbrokes.
It’s put betting in the football mainstream and plenty of fans are making the most of it.
The Rise of Online Betting Technology
Of course, the rise of online betting and the technology powering it has also played a key part in their relationship. Live streaming has become a huge bonus for bookmakers and bookmaker apps as fans can watch games live and bet in play.
The FA’s deal with bet365 to live stream FA Cup games has been a particularly landmark moment for this, while players can also watch the likes of La Liga, Bundesliga and even MLS through their devices.
As the offering has increased, so have the bonuses on offer. Today it’s so simple to turn free bets into real money if you choose your bets right, with most bookies giving away free bets and no deposit promotions to new customers.
Once players are in, they can then watch games live, bet in play and even bet on things such as cards and corners, making it one of the most sophisticated sports around when it comes to betting. It’s expanded to offer something for everything.
It’s been very much a mutual relationship for football and sports betting. The beautiful game has certainly benefited from the money it has received from sports betting companies with sponsorship deals in the Premier League with big betting firms worth more than £300million.
That in turn is improving the overall quality of the league and helping the Premier League assert itself more as a global brand. They won’t want that to stop, so we can only see a closer relationship growing between the two, even if the government are cutting down on adverts being shown during games and other measures to prevent problem gaming.
Of course, that is important. But the game is now too reliant upon such sponsors, and let’s face it, as fans, we’re too invested in a Saturday afternoon acca or in-play bet on a Champions League night for it to ever really go away.
It’s come a long way in the past 15 years and that’s only going to continue as money and technology continues to have its say.