Call for Italian Football Betting Sponsorship Ban to be Suspended

What may well happen in the UK soon is already on course in Italy. The Italian government banned future gambling sponsorships for football clubs two years ago. Current deals can continue until they expire but it’s not something the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) is at all happy about.

They have now called on the Italian government to suspend the ban until June 2023. They are concerned about the ban following the financial problems clubs have faced during the ongoing pandemic. That’s something that could not have been imagined when the anti-gambling sponsorship legislation was passed.

The FIGC also want to see the introduction of a “Football Savings Fund.” This would see 1% of all bets that are placed on sports in Italy going to a national fund. This would be run by the FIGC and used to finance Italian football projects. It would operate for both retail and online gambling outlets.

Gabriele Gravina is the president of the FIGC and feels that Italian football clubs are “at a crossroads.” The president believes that action must be taken as soon as possible to “prevent the professional football crisis from obliging the clubs to block their activity, thus bringing the entire sports sector to its knees.”

It was stressed that the FIGC had not asked for the law to be refreshed. Their aim is to convince the Italian government to “recognise the socio-economic importance that football has through the adoption of some urgent measures to relieve the clubs from the crisis generated by Covid-19. Football can play a decisive role in Italy’s overall recovery.”

The ban that has been imposed prevents Italy-facing brands from forging partnerships with clubs. However, some Italian clubs are finding another way of securing deals with gambling companies. For example, AC Milan have signed a deal with Premier Bet. It’s not for Italy though, instead Premier Bet now become the official betting partner for the Serie A club in Africa.

While the FIGC hope that some progress is made, there continues to be the possibility that a similar situation is on its way in the UK. The government are currently working on a review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

There are plenty of deals between clubs and gambling companies. Recently Spreadex have signed sponsorship agreements with both Burnley and Fulham. Such deals do receive criticism though from those who are concerned about such deals. The worry of sponsorship leading to increased amounts of gambling and addiction is the usual route critics go down. Deals in place though do not see the brand advertising extended to youth teams. Just what plans the UK government has will be revealed in due course.