Sky Bet, the betting arm of the UK-based pay-television operator, has retained its title sponsorship rights to the English Football League (EFL) second-tier soccer structure through a five-year partnership extension.

The new deal, which runs until 2029, covers all three leagues within the EFL – the Championship, League One, and League Two – as well as their playoffs.

The agreement represents a 50% increase in fees on Sky Bet's previous agreement with the EFL struck in 2013 and will see £6 million ($4.47 million) added to a community fund across the life of the contract to support projects in the areas around the 72 clubs in English soccer’s bottom three professional tiers.

The deal will also see a continuation of the pair’s memorandum of understanding on social responsibility, which was built into its original deal.

That includes a commitment from Sky Bet to not actively market itself or its products in family areas of club stadia or advertise to young fans and a pledge by EFL to promote safer gambling messaging and support the company’s safer gambling campaigns.

Sky Bet said it will also fund a player education across the EFL’s clubs that will focus on the potential dangers of gambling, as well as providing support and advice.

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Steve Birch, Sky Bet's chief commercial officer, said: “Football is central to who we are and it’s great to be able to support the game and provide investment for clubs across the pyramid.

“We are absolutely committed to safer gambling, and I’m delighted that our partnership with the EFL shows how responsible betting and gaming operators and sporting organizations can work together to promote safer gambling and tackle the issue of gambling harm.”

The deal comes amid growing concern around betting sponsorship within UK sports and its effects on society and those working within the sports industry.  

Campaigners previously called on the British government to ban gambling sponsorship in UK sports as part of its review of the Gambling Act. However, the government published a whitepaper in April calling on the sector to draw up its own code for socially responsible betting sponsorship.

Premier League striker Ivan Toney, meanwhile, was banned from playing for eight months in May after admitting to 232 breaches of governing body the Football Association’s betting rules.

At the time, the FA said the ban would have been significantly harsher, had Toney not been diagnosed with a gambling addiction.  

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “For over a decade, Sky Bet has been a valuable partner for EFL clubs, offering sustained investment to help clubs navigate a volatile financial landscape and ensure fans can enjoy fantastic footballing entertainment in every corner of the country.

“We have consistently seen our partnership evolve to move with the times and with the community at the heart of the EFL, a new community investment fund is perfectly aligned and will help strengthen the partnership’s commitment to social responsibility.”

Last month, the EFL clubs unanimously voted to accept Sky's record $1.2 billion, five-year deal to retain domestic rights to the three leagues for the next cycle from 2024-25 to 2028-29.

That deal is a 50% increase on the league’s current deal with Sky, which expires at the end of next season and will see more than 1,000 matches broadcast per year over the course of the agreement.