Celtic could be forced to seek alternate sponsorship as Government mull proposal

By Euan Davidson

September 23, 2021

The UK Government is considering a change in gambling advertisement laws in a ruling which would affect Celtic.

Front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with gambling companies could be banned from the 23-24 season onwards, according to the Daily Mail. The Mail has revealed that the Government has been reviewing the 2005 Gambling Act [Legislation.gov].

A white paper on proposed changes to the legislation, particularly in regards to the advertisement of betting in sport, is set to be released at the end of this year. Or, early 2022.

Support to reform gambling rules has been a cross-party affair. The cabinet reshuffle last week introduced a gambling critic in the form of Conservative Chris Philp. Meanwhile, it’s a Labour MP Carolyn Harris who chairs the Parliamentary Group on gambling-related harm.

Even with pressure from a number of campaign groups, gambling sponsorship in football has been continuous and widespread. Along with big hitters in Celtic and Rangers, nine Premier League clubs’ shirts are adorned with the names of betting companies.

Celtic have a deal in place with Philippines-based firm Dafabet since 2016. That deal was renewed in 2018 [Scotsman], and was extremely lucrative for the club.

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What could Government ruling on gambling sponsorship mean for Celtic?

This could be a tricky situation for Celtic. What’s being proposed is a radical ban on front-of-shirt betting sponsorships. Given Dafabet’s prominent placing on the Hoops, and the money tied into that, it’s a big deal.

Celtic have an agreement in place with Dafabet until the end of the 24-25 season [Scotsman].

Of course, we’ve seen these kinds of bans elsewhere. Last week, Celtic again used the Celtic FC Foundation logo on their kits, against Betis. The same was true against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League qualifiers.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In Italy, betting sponsors are also banned. However, a temporary lifting on the legislation was considered this year, to help out clubs after the financial impact of Covid-19 [Inside World Football].

With cross-party support, and public momentum behind it, it’s likely that these amendments to the Gambling Act 2005 would pass through Westminster. In Scotland, gambling and licensing are not a devolved issues [Gambling Commission].

At the very least, Celtic would get adequate time to seek alternate arrangements should a ban come into place for the 23-24 season. But where it would leave another year of the Dafabet contract is up for debate.

Certainly, times are changing with regards to gambling in football.

Read more: The most difficult phase of the Celtic rebuild is almost over