Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughBranding the beautiful game - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Branding the beautiful game - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Branding the beautiful game

In the modern game, football and betting both go hand-in-hand. The added thrill any fan can get when money is on a set result, the first goalscorer or even how many corners occur in a game. It is hard to get away from the possible odds on the overall outcome of an encounter when teams become associated with major betting syndicate, while the increase in social networks has helped boost the availability and accessibility to websites for fans.

The advertising boards around stadiums, usually promoting the linked company to the club, regularly boast the latest odds for fans to see, usually prior to half-time so the supporters can spend more money at the interval on what they perceive to be a “sure thing”. The same can be said during televised football matches and the advert breaks, with bet365, to name one, utilising Ray Winstone during their half-time adverts to promote the best odds on the final result or the next goalscorer.

However, teams have since taken it one step further, often accepting substantial offers from syndicates to have their name plastered across their shirt. And while it has only come into play in recent years, arguably the biggest team in the world has the name splashed across the Real Madrid both the home and away kits. The betting giants have sponsored the Spanish outfit since 2007 and since the re-emergence of Florentino Perez back in 2009, the club have utilised the massive the opportunity to extend the shirt sponsors until the end of the 2012/13 season in a deal that could see the La Liga pace setters net an impressive €20 (£16.65m) million a year.

At present, remain the only betting company that sponsor any of Europe’s major big hitters, with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea opting for Aon and Samsung as their predominant shirt sponsors. Yet, the Spanish capital side weren’t the first team to utilise the ever growing gambling market in order to secure shirt sponsorship. Tottenham Hotspur received the big money backing of internet gaming website Mansion back in 2006, in a deal worth a reported £34m over the course of four-years, ensuring they earned around £8.5m per year and despite not earning what Madrid earned in similar period, raising almost double what Spurs did with their deal per year, it paved the way for betting brands to work their way into football.

Getting the name across of the major betting company is the sole purpose of shirt sponsorship. The best way to secure the added publicity from football fans is by having your name strewn across the top for punters to see. Tottenham may not be the biggest team in the world, at the time of their deal with Mansion was during a transitional period for the North London side, but with Madrid, a team that is world renowned, will benefit tremendously from the added exposure. Reminded worldwide that they sponsor Spain’s most successful team will boost revenue and, in turn, the money pumped into the team will aid the quest to oust Barcelona as the countries’ best team.

What ever next a poker guide accross the shirt? Nevertheless, despite the costs that were forced to pay in order to sponsor Madrid, the money that will inevitably be made back through the stark increase in football fans heading to their website to place bets on the odds they have available. With the increase in ‘Smartphones’ adding to the accessibility of betting sites through apps and online gambling, the chances of the likes of bet365, and Mansion, who in turn are a major backer of Manchester City, appearing on more football shirts in the foreseeable future. Madrid have profited heavily from the sponsorship of the Austrian betting syndicate, while in return, have benefited substantially from having their name viewed by millions around the world on a weekly basis, not a bad poker bonus.

With the success of the sponsorship, it is looking more and more likely that betting companies will continue to branch into football, and perhaps more importantly, onto the shirts of the world’s biggest clubs with it.

Ben McAleer