Just days after announcing a new sponsorship deal with Stake.com, Premier League football team Everton have been lambasted by their own supporters.
The Toffees have penned an agreement thought to be worth a club-record £10 million per season with the online casino and sports betting operator, but the move has come under fire at a time when English football clubs were expected to be coaxed away from signing such deals as part of the government’s regulatory reform.
The announcement comes after the club’s chief executive, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, claimed back in 2020 that she didn’t foresee Everton ever partnering with a gambling firm again.
Barrett-Baxendale revealed that ‘in an ideal world’ the Toffees would aim for a ‘different type of sponsor’ going forward, after a strategic review of Everton’s commercial direction saw club chiefs prematurely end their £7 million per season association with SportPesa in 2020.
The response of supporters has been mixed, to put it mildly, and already 20,000 people – roughly half the average attendance of a game at Everton’s Goodison Park home – have put their name to a petition calling for an immediate end to the Stake.com deal.
The originator of the petition, Ben Melvin, is an Everton season ticket holder who has admitted his own struggles with gambling addiction. He said he wanted to send a message to the club, and commented:
“The partnership does not sit right with the club’s motto, the standards the club sets off the pitch and the fantastic work done by the club’s Everton In The Community in tackling mental health issues.
“I didn’t anticipate the petition to get to the level it has, and I realise Everton may not change their decision, but I want them to know how many people have signed it and understand how some fans feel.”
Everton’s decision comes barely a month after the BBC reported that the government’s White Paper on gambling industry reform would ban Premier League clubs from having a betting sector brand on the front of their shirts.
The Stake.com branding will indeed be printed on the front of both the men’s and women’s playing shirts for the 2022/23 season, and they will also be allowed to promote their products on advertising hoardings and digital signage around Goodison Park and the club’s Finch Farm training facility.
The firm, who are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, add Everton to a sponsorship portfolio that already includes Watford FC and the UFC, as well as ‘global ambassadors’ such as Sergio Aguero, MMA champion Israel Adesanya and the rapper Drake.
Professor Barrett-Baxendale, curiously forgetting her own words of two years ago, was delighted to unveil Stake.com as Everton’s new partner.
“Stake.com is an ambitious organisation with impressive growth plans, and we’re all very excited to enter into a partnership with them at this stage in their journey.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, I’d like to express my gratitude to Stake.com for choosing Everton as a long-term partner.”