Aston Villa supporters tackles club over ‘cynical’ shirt sponsorship pact with gambling firm

Aston Villa supporters tackles club over ‘cynical’ shirt sponsorship pact with gambling firm

Aston Villa’s new jersey sponsorship contract with a controversial internet betting company has sparked outrage among the club’s supporters.

The Premier League team recently agreed to a deal with the Asia-based online betting firm BK8 until the end of the 2025-26 season, when English top-flight clubs will remove gambling sponsorships off the front of their matchday shirts.

Norwich City agreed to a sponsorship arrangement with BK8 in 2021, but cancelled it after only three days due to fan protests over its sexualized online marketing material involving young ladies.

The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust (AVST) labeled the sponsorship contract a “cynical attempt” at financial benefit in a statement posted on Thursday, accusing the club of ignoring fans’ concerns over betting sponsorship, The Guardian reports.

“Though we acknowledge the commercial reality, we sadly feel the club has failed to listen to the legitimate concerns of fans about the role of gambling sponsorship in sport,” AVST said in a statement.

“The BK8 agreement is a cynical last-minute attempt to scoop the financial gains ahead of the voluntary ban on front-of-shirt gambling sponsors,” the statement added.

“While we understand fans, players and club staff alike want Villa to be as successful as possible, that should not come at the expense of exposing fans to the exploitative practices of gambling operators, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.”

AVST said they welcomed the funding that will come from the deal but added “it should not come at the expense of others”. The supporters’ club added it had highlighted the social and mental harms caused by gambling addiction, and expressed concerns about BK8’s “misogynistic” marketing practices in a joint statement with other Villa fan groups in January.

“At the time, we were given assurances of the club’s due diligence process and advised that the misogynistic practices were that of a BK8 affiliate,” AVST said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.