Football clubs in Spain, like those the world over, have been severely impacted by the global pandemic. A study by FIFA, the world’s governing body, has estimated that the world game will lose US $14 billion this year, that is a third of its total economic value.
Now the income streams of more than a third of the top-flight teams in Spain are set to be further hit as the government there has warned them to cut their existing ties with betting companies.
Currently seven of the teams in La Liga, which include Sevilla, Valencia, Levante, Alavs, Granada, Real Betis and newly promoted Cadiz, all have a gambling firm as their main sponsor and display their logos prominently on their jerseys.
However, now they have been warned by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzon, that they need to end such associations by the end of May next year when a new law is set to be introduced into the country severely restricting advertising by gambling firms.
Gambliing in Spain has become a serious problem amongst young people according to campaigners. They point to an increase in the incidence in the number of gamblers amongst the 18 - 25 age bracket from 29% in 2016 to 2020 this year. Furthermore, the amount spent by this age group has increased by 13% year on year in the same period.
More broadly there has been an upsurge in online gambling generally this year in many countries, with experts opining that this is due to many people either turning to the habit or increasing the amount of time they spend online as a way of relieving the boredom during lockdown.
The clubs concerned are not happy, not least because finding new commercial partners in the current business environment in Spain and elsewhere in Europe is very difficult, and it is unlikely that any new sponsors will be able to match what the gambling companies have hitherto contributed.
Nevertheless, with the new rules set to impact all sports in Spain, appeals to extend the transition period for at least three years until the new rules take effect are likely to fall on deaf ears.