Recent figures from Caytoo have shown significant changes in sponsorship industry trends, as the betting and gambling sector loses its top-spot held two years ago, witnessing its number of professional sports sponsors nearly halve.

Overall, the sector has seen its sponsorship share fall from 15.3% to 8.1% across football, rugby and cricket, a trend which Caytoo has stated ‘has been driven entirely by football’.

The industry has seen its share of football sponsorships decrease by more than half from 32.7% to 15.2%, although despite this decline it remains the most prominent sponsor for the world’s most popular sport.

“This change has been driven by the greater demand from society for professional sports to be more socially responsible when it comes to their fans and communities,” remarked Alex Burmaster, Caytoo’s Head of Research and Analysis.

“In addition to gambling’s drop, alcohol has seen the second biggest reduction in prevalence while Environmental Services and Healthcare are among those with the biggest increases.”

In gambling’s place, construction and engineering has taken the top spot with 11.2%, followed by Automotive with 9.4% and Financial Services at 8.5%.

Furthermore, the IT Services and Software, Telecoms and Automotive sectors have seen the largest increase in the number of main sponsorships, with each sector increasing its number of partners by eight, five and four respectively.

This has been attributed by Burmaster to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he argued has accelerated the shift to a more digital world and the increasing dominance of companies operating in that space’.

Of these IT Services and Software sponsorships, the bulk have focused on women’s sports, which is responsible for six of the eight agreements, which the researcher noted ‘shows how increasingly important female professional sport is seen as a way for companies to gain exposure and recognition’.

Continuing, Burmaster referenced Norwich City FC’s recent termination of its contract with online sportsbook BK8, following a public outcry from fans due to ‘sexually provocative’ marketing campaigns shared across the operator’s social media channels.

“A prime example of this change is Norwich City FC,” he added. “At the beginning of our research the club signed a deal with Asian betting firm BK8 but by the time the research finished Norwich had terminated the deal due to public pressure over the sexualised nature of BK8’s marketing activity and replaced them with Norfolk-based Lotus Cars who recently announced a £2.5 billion investment to move to producing only electric vehicles.”

Although gambling sponsorships have been identified as a significant revenue driver for football – in addition to other sports – several Premier League clubs held a meeting earlier this year to discuss future marketing and branding arrangements.

As a result of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act, links between professional football clubs and the betting and gaming industry come under increasing scrutiny.

A blanket ban on gambling sports sponsorships has been predicted as ‘the most likely outcome’ of the review,  and reportedly has the support of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet.

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