LaLiga 'concerned' how impending betting ads ban will affect clubs
By Tariq Saleh
Oscar Mayo, director of business, marketing and international development at Spanish soccer’s LaLiga, has admitted the league is “concerned” about the government’s plan to implement a blanket ban on gambling advertising in the country and the financial implications for the clubs.
Alberto Garzón, Spain's minister of consumer affairs, last month insisted that the ban, which will particularly affect LaLiga teams with betting shirt sponsorships, will come into effect this autumn.
It was thought that the legislation would be phased in over the next few years, but Garzon stressed that it would be enacted in October, meaning the clubs face a race against time to find new partners in a market depressed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at a press conference to present LaLiga’s new partnership with M88, Mayo stressed the league is in talks with the Spanish government to reach an agreement on the nature of the ban to minimise the impact on its clubs.
He said: “Obviously we are concerned, we understand it and respect it and we have talked to them [the government] to see what is the best way of doing things and what should be the best time to do it as well.
“This is a very complicated year for the clubs on a financial level. So what we are doing is talking to the government to do it in the best possible way, understanding that they want to regulate the betting online.”
Despite the impending legislation, Spanish clubs continued to sign sponsorship agreements with betting companies in the run-up to the 2020-21 season, which got under way this month.
These have included Real Betis, which signed a two-year shirt deal with Betway, also now the official bookmaker of Celta Vigo.
Winamax has extended its shirt sponsorship deal with Granada for two years, while newly-promoted Cadiz signed up with Dafabet for the same period.
Other prominent clubs with betting companies as shirt sponsors include Sevilla, Valencia, Alaves, Leganes, Levante and Mallorca, but Osasuna have split with Kirolbet.
It has been estimated that a ban on betting sponsorship will cost the clubs in the top-tier LaLiga and second-tier Segunda División around €80 million ($93 million), which would represent a huge blow at a time when fans are unable to attend games due to the pandemic.
From LaLiga’s perspective, the ban could negatively impact M88’s plan to use the partnership to expand its brand to a global audience, particularly as it will be looking for exposure at high-profile games such as the ‘El Clasico’ contests between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
As LaLiga's official betting partner in Asia, M88 said the new relationship with the Spanish top flight forms part of its strategic growth plans.
Carlos Lopez, M88’s creative director, said: “One of our biggest and most important verticals is sport, so having one of the biggest competitions in the world and having the Clasico, one of the biggest sporting events, football or not, is very important.
“Also, our sports product is evolving in the coming months and years to offer more live streaming, more interaction with the user and better content. So it [the partnership] is definitely a chance to do more with LaLiga and have more visibility overall.”
Aside from traditional sponsorship assets such as pitchside branding, both LaLiga and M88 are keen to use content as a driver to increase fan engagement.
The two parties will work together to produce exclusive content and competitions “that will further engage football fans and maintain the growing profile of the competition in Asia.”
The content will include a weekly video series featuring LaLiga ambassadors that will explore and analyse LaLiga and provide insights and storylines to increase its reach across the market.
Mayo explained: “Working with M88 and other partners, we have seen that fans all over the world, especially in Asia, really want to get a lot of information and know a lot more about what happened at the weekend and the stories related to LaLiga.
“So we think this is the best way to increase this interest in LaLiga and to satisfy our fans, through M88. We want to get the content and the stories all about LaLiga closer to our fans in Asia and we can even adapt our content in a more personal way to the Asian market.”
LaLiga’s tie-up with M88 was the third regional sponsorship deal it signed within the same week earlier this month, following on from agreements with soccer-focused over-the-top streaming platform Fanatiz in North America, and oil and gas company Total in Argentina.
The league has developed a strong regional focus with its commercial deals, and Mayo said it is an important means of widening its global footprint.
He added: “Regional partnerships are very important because they help us to get the excitement of LaLiga closer to all the different regions outside of Spain so that they can watch matches.
“This is why we have partners like M88 so we can be closer to our fans and we want to take LaLiga to all corners of the world. Rather than a sponsorship, it is more of a partnership which is very important because it is not a short-term agreement, we both want to grow our brands together.
“We have got an agreement for four years and we really hope it will go on for even longer because we have got a lot of ambitions to be very active in lots of different countries, we want to be close up to our fans and we really want to grow together. M88 will help LaLiga to grow its brand and LaLiga is very interested in all the different markets.”