Neil Doncaster makes call on SPL v SPFL as he discusses gambling sponsorship and lack of league sponsor

Ladbrokes' title sponsorship ended last yearLadbrokes' title sponsorship ended last year
Ladbrokes' title sponsorship ended last year
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster insists the “complicated issue” of gambling sponsorships is something the league will bear in mind when discussing potential partnerships in the future.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes sponsored the Scottish Premiership until recently while Betfred is the current title sponsor of the League Cup and while a number of teams carry betting firms as their main shirt sponsor, there is growing opposition to gambling being so closely linked with football.

Speaking on the Price of Football podcast with Kieran Maguire and Kevin Day, Doncaster sought to explain the financial importance of betting firms to football.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: “[Gambling sponsorships] is certainly something that is in the public consciousness at the moment.

"There is some disquiet about the relationship that sport has with gambling but it has a very long history of association with gambling, through the football pools of yesteryear.

"Gambling has always been a big financial contribution to the finances of football.

"In France, a bookmaker can't take a bet on a sporting competition without there being a return to that sport. We don't have that in the UK at the moment and in the absence of that sport right then clearly sponsorship is a way of gambling giving back to sport, and the fact that so many people bet as a mainstream activity on sport on a day-to-day basis.

"I think it's a complicated issue and it's one that politicians are examining at the moment and we'll be bearing that in mind in terms of our discussions with potential sponsors going forward.”


Doncaster also answered a question about the Scottish Premiership still being erroneously referred to as the SPL. The league chief argued that the most important factor was the discussion of the Scottish game.

"The SPFL brand doesn't roll off the tongue like SPL does. When we re-merged the SPL and SFL together in 2013, SPFL was a neutral way of demonstrating that this was a merger of two leagues.

"We’ll keep it under review but ultimately you want people talking about football in Scotland and whether they refer to SPL or SPFL, as long as they're talking about it that's what matters most."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

No league sponsor?

Following the end of Ladbrokes' association with the Scottish Premiership, the top division currently lacks a title sponsor, and Betfred’s League Cup deal ends this season too, but Doncaster insisted title sponsors were not vital in terms of raising money.

He explained: “Sponsorship is by no means the most important income stream.

"Over 90 per cent of our income comes from broadcast and that would be the same for most leagues around the world.

"Ideally we would have title sponsorship but it's an extremely difficult sponsorship environment and that's been the case for a number of years.”

Doncaster also revealed that the spread of Covid-19 had potentially hampered a title sponsorship arrangement.

"We'd actually agreed a title deal in principle in March last year at the point that Covid-19 developed.

"We'd prefer the league to be sponsored, but there are a number of leagues that don't have title sponsorship and we've been successful in selling second-tier sponsorships to Papa John's and the Loch Lomond Group.

"We are all working as hard as we can to bring in income from whatever source we can for the benefit of our members.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.