Fulham F.C. has faced criticism following rumours that the online gambling operator W88 is likely to be the shirt sponsor of the English professional association football club for the 2022/2023 season.
The football club has neither officially announced its new shirt sponsor nor unveiled its new sports kit but Fulham’s fans saw that the online gambling company was briefly listed as the club’s shirt sponsor in the English Premier League’s (EPL) handbook for the upcoming season. Eventually, the name of W88 was removed, as reported by The Athletic.
Both Fulham and EPL representatives refused to make commentary on the matter after being contacted by representatives of the aforementioned media hub.
Rumour has it that the Asian-facing gambling operator would take over from World Mobile as a major shirt sponsor, with the blockchain telecommunications network already having been moved to the training gear and the EPL football club’s shirt sleeves. Although such a decision has not been confirmed yet, Fulham’s fans have been concerned and demonstrated some doubts about the appropriateness of W88 as a gambling sponsor.
In 2021, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust held a survey among the club’s supporters. The poll found that almost 50% of Fulham F.C.’s fan base (47% to be exact) supported a ban on gambling shirt sponsorship agreements, while 46% said they would be uncomfortable with a gambling company as their favourite club’s main sponsor.
Fulham F.C.’s Fanbase Concerned with the Potential Gambling Shirt Sponsorship
If W88 is officially announced as the main shirt sponsor for Fulham F.C., this would not be the first time the online gambling operator enters a sponsorship agreement with an English professional football club. Previously, it sponsored a bunch of EPL clubs, including Crystal Palace F.C., Aston Villa F.C. and Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. Earlier this summer, Crystal Palace announced a decision to end its partnership with the Asian-facing digital gambling operator.
Earlier this week, the Fulham Supporters’ Trust shared with The Athletic that many Fulham fans were uncomfortable with having a gambling company as a shirt sponsor, and a significant number of them had indicated that they did not purchase replica shirts or other merchandise of the club because of that. According to the Trust, Fulham, along with other English Premier League clubs, is trying to grab the last opportunity to get sponsorship revenue from foreign gambling companies that do not operate on the territory of the UK and do not target local people, at a time when an increased likelihood of a voluntary ban on gambling operators as shirt sponsors have been agreed.
As mentioned above, the news of the possible addition of W88 as a major shirt sponsor of Fulham F.C. comes at a time when gambling sponsorship deals of EPL football clubs will be ended once and for all. The English Premier League wants its members to back the voluntary suspension of gambling companies as their shirt sponsors in order to avoid a more restrictive measure imposed by the UK Government.
The EPL clubs are expected to vote on the proposal, with the vote being delayed until later in July because of the ongoing political crisis faced by the Government. As Casino Guardian already reported, the British gambling minister Chris Philp was one of the Ministers who chose to file their resignations in a move that eventually resulted in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation, too.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.