Our work in English football has been a huge source of pride over the last few years. We have supported clubs up and down the UK and have worked hard to lead the way in reinventing the way in which sponsors approach their relationships with sporting organisations.
We are therefore delighted to announce a renewal of our longstanding partnership with SPFL Champions Rangers. It’s been quite a journey over the last decade and we’re proud to have played our part in that. It is a hugely exciting time to be involved with the club, as this current season has shown already.
But as exciting as the renewal to our support for Rangers is, our commitment to reinventing the sports sponsorship model, so that it benefits the wider community as well as the clubs, remains of critical importance to our approach. That is why as part of the extended agreement with Rangers, we will be renewing our support for the vital men’s mental health initiative, Team Talk - a programme that Rangers’ Manager Steven Gerrard recently attended and said how abundantly clear it was to him how much of a support network Team Talk provides to the Rangers community.
There has been a lot of coverage about the industry and its relationship with football and sport in the UK – some of which is a little unfair. Many football fans, in particular, understand the role that responsible betting and gaming companies play in supporting the sport – and that betting and football has a natural relationship, with millions enjoying a flutter on the sport they love.
But it is also clear that there is, perhaps, too much involvement from betting companies. I would like to see a higher bar required from gambling brands looking to get involved in sport in the UK. Companies that have a genuine and deep commitment to the UK will always have a greater incentive to use sponsorship for good, instead of simply seeing it as a way of getting their logo in front of fans.
A greater commitment to ensuring sponsorship benefits clubs and communities – as well as promoting safer gambling behaviour – should sit at the heart of all licensed, UK-focused operators’ approach to sponsorship.
We have taken great strides at Kindred to do that. This season, we became the first brand in the UK to feature responsible gambling messages on all of our shirt sponsorships, and we dedicate over 30% of all of our assets in football to safer gambling messaging. Combined with our approach to community investment, we believe this higher bar of sponsorship is the way forward in the UK.
Our commitment to reaching 0 per cent of revenue from harmful gambling by 2023 underpins all of our work on sponsorship. Using our assets for good – including promoting safer gambling messaging – is all part of our strategy to drive problem gambling rates down on our platforms and ensure gambling remains fun and safe for players.
Sponsors and clubs are in a unique position to do more to make sponsorship truly benefit the whole community of a football club, and promote healthier, safer gambling through our activation. We will continue to do so - with our ongoing work with Rangers and our other clubs' testament to that - and hope that others will join us on our journey to make sports sponsorship benefit clubs and communities across the country.
Listen to Neil talk about football, Team Talk and Our Journey Towards Zero in this podcast with talkSPORT.
*Neil's speaks 6 minutes in.