The deal

Earlier this week, English Premier League (EPL) soccer side Aston Villa and Kaizen Gaming confirmed a partnership through which the Greek gametech firm’s betting brand Betano becomes the club’s new principal and front-of-shirt partner.

The two-year agreement will see the Betano logo feature on the front of Aston Villa’s men's kits from the 2024-25 season.

The deal is reportedly worth around £20 million ($24.6 million) per year, making Betano the most lucrative front-of-shirt sponsor in the club's history.

Why it matters

The Birmingham outfit will, through the tie-up, remain one of eight clubs in the league to sport betting sponsors on its shirt through to the end of the 2025-26 season, when rules banning gambling companies from taking front-of-shirt sponsorships will be in place.

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That decision was voted through by the 20 EPL clubs in April last year, after discussions between the league, clubs, and the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).

The move represents the first clear effort by the English top flight to address an issue that has been scrutinized by several UK government ministers in recent years with some calling for a complete ban on gambling advertising.

The EPL is said to have told clubs that the government would seek a legislative ban unless a voluntary accord was reached.

However, clubs will continue to be able to feature gambling brands in other inventory areas, including shirt sleeves and LED advertising.

Conrad Wiacek, head of analysis and consulting at Sportcal (GlobalData Sport), has now commented: “Aston Villa's new front-of-shirt deal with betting brand Betano highlights English soccer’s reliance on betting and gambling funds, but also crucially calls into question the reliance sport in general has on funds from less desirable sectors.

“While many commercial directors would rather not partner with firms from gambling, betting, and cryptocurrency, the reality is that brands from these sectors will pay massively over the odds for prominent inventory at top teams.

“With Villa possibly set to be playing in the lucrative UEFA Champions League next season, this latest deal will likely have a premium associated with it. While gambling brands will no longer be able to take the coveted front-of-shirt position in two seasons, clubs like Aston Villa are cashing in now while the opportunity is there."

The details

Betano will replace the midlands side’s current kit sponsor, Asian betting brand BK8. That deal is worth around $12 million per year.

A three-year deal with BK8 was only agreed in June 2023 but will be cut short after only one season.

Indeed, following the BK8 deal, Aston Villa fan groups protested the team partnering with a company from a sector such as gambling – raising the possibility that similar protests will take place following confirmation of the Betano agreement.

The Birmingham club is also reportedly set to switch kit suppliers next season, teaming up with German sportswear giant Adidas, while still under contract with UK manufacturer Castore.

adidas is believed to be set to take over as the team’s kit manufacturer from 2024-25, with Villa’s association with Castore ending after a controversial two seasons.

Other Villa partners include the team’s sleeve sponsor, finance broker Trade Nation, and local company Homeserve Furniture Repairs.

Despite an impressive on-pitch season in 2022-23, the Birmingham club lost almost £120 million in that financial year.

In December, V Sports, the multi-club ownership group that owns Villa, unveiled a strategic partnership with US-based investment firm Atairos.

Villa currently sit fourth in the 2023-24 EPL and are on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Betano, meanwhile, is a global operator in its own right, with strong soccer links in markets such as Europe and South America.

Last November, the brand was announced as the official betting partner of this year's UEFA 2024 European Championships.

More recently, the gambling company, which operates across South America in Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador, was announced as a partner of the next two editions of South American national team soccer’s Copa America competition.