Steve Birch, Commercial Director, Sky Betting & Gaming
It’s often said that a week is a long time in football, so with the excitement mounting ahead of the first round of EFL fixtures this weekend, I feel a huge sense of pride as Sky Bet begin its tenth consecutive season as the league’s title sponsor – one of the longest and most significant partnerships in professional sports. This relationship has undoubtedly been a positive force for Sky Bet, which has become the UK’s most popular betting brand, but it has also enabled us to support EFL clubs, educate their players and coaches and better protect at-risk safer gaming customers.
Having first been agreed in 2013, the partnership is centered on a clear Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations that sets out how to achieve our common goals in a socially responsible way. This has always and rightly put safer play at its core, while establishing a framework that allows us to engage the millions of EFL fans and connect them with the teams, players and communities they support with passion.
And if last year’s footballing drama is anything to go by, they’re in for another treat this season. Returning to full capacity after the pandemic, Wembley hosted nearly 200,000 football fans in three thrilling league finals in May, in which two sleeping giants of English football – Nottingham Forest and Sunderland – were promoted from the Championship and from League One respectively, with Port Vale coming in from League Two.
With both attendance and viewership at last year’s EFL Finals and Qualifiers nearing record highs, Sky Bet were delighted to gain access to their largest inventory of sponsors to date. In line with our well-established commitment to use these assets to relay safer gaming messages, we have allocated over 70% of this inventory to the industry’s “Take Time to Think” safer gaming campaign, while encouraging clients to set deposit limits and consider other protection tools.
This season will see the continuation of the approach clearly set out in the Memorandum of Understanding, with the promotion of safer play as a fundamental principle of our collaboration with the EFL. As well as highlighting ‘Take time to think’ via updated LED billboards, updated sleeve badges for all 72 clubs will now promote the campaign alongside each matchday program and big-screen advertisements allocated to Sky Bet.
Additionally, we will use these resources to continue to raise awareness of “TalkBanStop” – a collaboration between GamCare, Gamban and GamStop that combines practical tools with support to help vulnerable customers stop gambling and start their recovery journey. Funded and supported by the Gambling Commission, this initiative brings together the important combination of software blocking, self-exclusion and ongoing support for vulnerable customers and is fully backed by Sky Bet as well as other UK brands owned by Flutter. , our parent company and the global leader in safer gaming.
Our partnership with the EFL will also mean that we work closely with EPIC Risk Management, the UK’s leading independent damage minimization consultancy, with whom we have a £1 million multi-year agreement to educate players and staff from each of the 72 EFLs. clubs on gambling-related harm. Now in its fifth year, this season will see us build on the work we initially did with the first teams at each club, delivering a more refined program shaped by the voices and personal experiences of those who are affected by gambling-related harm in and around their club, be it fans or family members.
And finally, we will continue to co-develop quality content for Sky Bet EFL’s “League Of 72” YouTube channel, which marks its first anniversary this season and leverages Sky Bet’s extensive and extensive range of social assets. . This content hub is the dedicated home for exclusive interviews, insider access and tactical analysis across the EFL, allowing clubs with tighter marketing budgets to engage with their fans and communities without having to make a substantial investment in high-end production and specialist digital talent.
These initiatives show how Sky Bet and the EFL have pioneered what a collaborative and constructive partnership between a betting company and a sports organization can look like. As part of Flutter, one of the largest sports betting and gaming companies in the world, we were able to use these learnings to build similar business relationships with top sporting bodies such as the NFL and NBA in the States. United and the NRL. in Australia, while developing standards in areas such as betting integrity. While these partnerships should not escape scrutiny, their benefits should not be deliberately ignored either. So like the thousands of football fans cheering on their team this weekend, I will be supporting the EFL and our long standing partnership, we all look forward to another successful season.
For more information, please contact: [email protected]
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