British sportsbetting giant Ladbrokes Coral Group has reportedly signed a deal that will see its Ladbrokes brand continue to serve as the title sponsor of the four professional soccer divisions in Scotland until the end of the 2020 season.
According to a report from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the new agreement with the Scottish Professional Football League is valued at about $7.1 million and will see Ladbrokes’ name continue to be emblazoned on all marketing materials for the Scottish Premiership, Scottish Championship, Scottish League One and Scottish League Two.
Ladbrokes has reportedly served as the title sponsor of Scottish professional football since 2015 at a cost of around $2.8 million per season while Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive for the Scottish Professional Football League, purportedly declared that he was ‘thrilled’ the brand had extended this relationship.
“We have enjoyed a superb partnership since [Ladbrokes] first came on board in 2015 and are confident that will continue and flourish until 2020 and hopefully beyond,” Doncaster reportedly told the BBC. “We are also aware of our social responsibilities as a senior professional league in Scotland and will continue to promote a message of responsible gambling in conjunction with Ladbrokes.”
However, the BBC reported that the extended sponsorship deal has not been universally welcomed with the Scottish Professional Football League receiving criticism for its perceived over-reliance on sponsorship cash from sportsbetting firms. Fellow British bookmaker William Hill currently sponsors the nation’s Scottish Cup knock-out competition while Betfred serves as the main backer of the Scottish League Cup.
John Rankin, Chairman for the Professional Footballers Association Scotland, reportedly warned last year that numerous players, club directors, managers and referees gamble on the sport with the BBC highlighting the cases of former Rangers players Joey Barton and Ian Black as well as Henry McClelland, Chairman for fourth-tier side Annan Athletic, as high-profile examples.
But, Jim Mullen, Chief Executive Officer for Ladbrokes Coral Group, reportedly countered by explaining that his firm now plans to work with the Scottish Professional Football League in order to foster more responsible gambling initiatives across the country. He purportedly proclaimed that the bookmaker takes its position as a sponsor ‘seriously’ and considers its role in assisting customers to keep gambling fun ‘just as seriously’.
“We knew when we started the sponsorship that we were associating with a sport that is followed with passion and dedication and it has proved to be an excellent partnership,” Mullen reportedly told the BBC. “We also want to make sure that it reflects that gambling should be fun, not a problem, and that is why our continued sponsorship will enable us to promote responsible gambling and work with clubs to ensure that the integrity of the sport is upheld.”