Spanish Clubs Facing Peril Over Gambling Ban

November 03, 2020

- Bradley Stott

Though pegged by many as a key sports betting market, Spain continues to emerge only ever more challenging a market as the months wear on.

The latest big blow is government’s decision to move ahead with its proposed gambling sponsorship ban on the country’s soccer clubs. Though touted as a measure designed to protect fans and supporters, such a ban can – and will – have a devastating financial effect on the country’s leading league.

Gov. Pushing For Tight Ban

In February this year, Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs officially tabled a Royal Decree proposing several measures designed to regulate both advertising and sponsorship activities in Spanish soccer.

Then, on June 30, said ministry tabled an amended and even more stringent “new draft” version of the decree – this time round focusing even more intensely than before on the future of gambling sponsorships within the context of national sport. Included this time round was a clause notably absent from the measures initially tabled: a complete ban of gambling sponsorships on soccer shirts.

Should the new draft be signed into force, professional soccer clubs will stand to forfeit as much as €90 million. This according to early estimates published by La Liga league president Javier Tebas. And this during a time clubs are ill able to even as much as scrape by financially in the first place.

Gambling Companies Are Lifelines

Gambling operators represent a significant source of critically-needed revenue for most Spanish soccer clubs – with as many as 17 of the 20 soccer teams in the La Liga division at present commercially tied to a gambling sponsor. Of these, at least 7 teams are majority-sponsored by gambling companies / bookmakers.

A counter-suggestion now put to table by Tebas is that of the ban on gambling sponsorships coming into force over the space of 3 years – instead of the currently-proposed 12 months (1 year). The hope is that a gradual introduction will allow local clubs more rope in terms of securing alternative financial lifelines.

If the latest draft of the decree were to be passed by law, gambling companies will no longer be free to sponsor even as much as a single aspect of a club. This means no more sponsoring of team stadiums, uniforms, equipment, retail kit, or any other official team item or event.

Garzon States His Case

Alberto Garzon, Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, has defended the new draft proposal by emphasising once again government’s position in terms of gambling constituting a serious risk to health as well as from a social point of view. Particularly worrying, according to a report posted by a prominent news agency, is the notable increase in wagering witnessed among people between 18 and 25 years of age.

The report claims wagering activities within the confines of this age group to have increased from 29 to 40 per cent over the last few years alone. What’s more, the actual amount of money spent by young people on soccer wagers, has reportedly also increased exponentially – and by as much as 13 per cent a year.

Younger supporters are considered more vulnerable than most other age groups because of a tendency to idolise soccer stars and consider them role-models to be emulated.

As In Spain - So Too Back Home

But Spain is of course not the only country pushing for drastic measures regarding gambling sponsorships. A Survation public poll reportedly conducted as recently as last month discovered 44 per cent of all participants to be in support of government putting an end to gambling sponsorships in soccer.

English soccer is currently home to 44 top leagues. Of the 44, 26 currently wear betting logos on their jerseys.

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