Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur has ditched its betting partnership with Russian online betting brand 1XBet in a move that could be replicated by rivals Liverpool and Chelsea.
1XBet has multi-million pound sponsorship deals with all three clubs worth close to £15m ($18.1M/€16.5m) in total per year, according to SportBusiness Sponsorship research.
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The deals are under threat because the betting brand has allegedly breached numerous betting and advertising protocols, including advertising on sites that stream Premier League matches illegally.
Both 1xBet and its licensed operator FSB are under investigation by the the UK’s gambling regulator, the Gambling Commission. The betting brand’s UK website has been suspended.
According to The Sunday Times newspaper, all three clubs had been told by the Gambling Commission regulator that they face fines if they break advertising rules on unlicensed operators.
The Commission said: “We recently wrote to Liverpool FC, Chelsea FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC to remind them that organisations engaging in sponsorship, and associated advertising arrangements, with an unlicensed operator may be liable to prosecution…for the offence of advertising unlawful gambling.”
Last month, The Sunday Times revealed that 1XBet had been used “to promote betting on children’s sports, cockfighting and a “pornhub” casino with topless women dealing the cards. The firm is also one of the biggest advertisers on sites that stream Premier League matches illegally.”
The brand has also been blacklisted from operating in other markets.
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The three Premier League deals with 1Xbet were all long-term and highly lucrative for the clubs involved.
The most valuable was signed with Liverpool for three years, from 2019-20 to 2021-22. The Global Partner deal includes six to eight minutes of LED time, player access, collective image rights, branding on Liverpool’s digital and social media platforms, tights to produce LFC-branded car and access to LFC Legends.
1XBet clinched a similar global partnership with Chelsea, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, adding to its regional deal for Africa with Tottenham Hotspur, signed last year. Despite the Africa-only designation, the deal’s value is tied up in an LED advertising buy that is visible on television coverage worldwide.
Outside the Premier League, 1XBet has signed a five-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2023-24, with LaLiga’s Barcelona and an international partnership with Italy’s Serie A.