All bets are (nearly) off
On a sea of football shirts where every tide carries with it colour and creativity, sponsor logos are undoubtedly its flotsam and jetsam. Bobbing around like discarded plastic bottles and empty carrier bags washed away from the nearest beach, they bring clutter to their environment, seemingly of little use to anyone. When, for instance, did you ever think to yourself 'If I ever manage a large company, I really should make sure its finances are managed by Standard Chartered'?
The logos of gambling companies are, in effect, the filled disposable nappies that offer a necessary sharpening of focus to this desperate tidal metaphor. Smelling pungently of excrement, their purpose is to spread misery to all who inhale its maloderous content. Thankfully, gambling concerns may soon be prevented from displaying their logos on the shirts of football teams in England and Wales. The British government has promised to discuss this issue and take the necessary action, just as soon as it's finished returning the country's living standards back to those of the early 1940's.
Gambling company logos have been appearing on football shirts in England and Wales since 2003 when Leyton Orient began the trend with PokerMillion.com. Since then, more than 60 different brands have found their way onto the shirts of current and former teams of the 'top 92.' Research for Kitbliss shows that of those, Gibraltar-based online casino 32Red have been the most visible, appearing on the shirts of eight clubs over the last 15 seasons. Others such as Dafabet, Mansion and 888 Sport have also affiliated themselves with multiple clubs across multiple league campaigns.
(Above: Aston Villa 2011-12 home; Crystal Palace 2020-21 home; Hull City 2016-17 home; Leyton Orient 2003-04 home; Tottenham Hotspur 2006-07 home.)
More than 40 teams have taken the gambling company shilling when it comes to shirt sponsorship, most of which have been teams from either the Premier League or Championship. Some, like Aston Villa, Burnley and Swansea City, have opted for a regularly changing partnership with several of those companies, whereas the likes of West Ham United and Stoke City have shown longer commitment to just one or two. Either way, it's been difficult to watch football in the modern era without seeing the word 'bet' on the shirt of a competing team, to say nothing of a pitchside advertising board.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, it's difficult to find anything positive to say about the presence of a gambling company logo on a shirt. Most of them employ a perfunctory sans-serif font to visually represent an often dull and sterile company name.
Many give little clue as to what the company's area of business is (which, on reflection, might be a good thing). If you're lucky, there might be some sort of symbol to accompany the wording, but even they tend to be at best baffling and at worst boring. Virtually none, however, can claim to enhance the look of a football shirt by simply being there.
So as we prepare to give a cheery wave goodbye to the gambling company logo, let's assess what we're about to lose and why most of them won't be missed when they're gone.
Worn by: Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United.
A logo that tries to persuade us that gambling is something that can be done at any hour of the day, and does this by using a clock with no numbers that looks more like the temperature dial on your central heating boiler. Capable of drawing attention to itself on just about any shirt and as such drew derision from anyone that had any sense.
Worn by: Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City.
'We are, we are, we are the Mods!' No wait a minute... 'We are, we are, we are The Royal Air Force!' No, that's not it either... That's it... 'We are, we are, we are sponsoring the next series of Shooting Stars!' No, it's none of these. They are, they are, they are, in fact a company with a crap logo. Shouldn't be anywhere near a football shirt.
Worn by: Burnley.
It's not so much the way this logo looks that's the problem. It's the way the name might be interpreted if you're reading it in eastern Europe. Despite looking like a harmless collection of odd shapes and letters, the term 'LaBa' when used colloquially in Romanian, means 'masturbate.' At that point, I'm afraid you'll have to write your own punchline...
Worn by: Ipswich Town.
Think of Las Vegas and what comes to mind? The glittering, twinkling lights of Nevada? The spinning of roulette wheels or the spinning reels of a thousand slot machines? Perhaps it's a boring six-sided shape featuring equally boring lettering and some crap clipart stars? Yes, this is how you depict 'magical'... if you've never travelled outside of Suffolk.
Spin and Win
Worn by: Bolton Wanderers.
How apt that a club that was reeling from financial difficulties was sponsored in 2016-17 by a gambling company. This logo looks like it belongs to a CBeebies series featuring two clumsy, bumbling handymen, one of whom has the surname Spin and the other... well you can work out the rest for yourself. Awful.
Worn by: Aston Villa.
If the circles in this logo were brightly coloured, you might think it was advertising a local kindergarten. Either that or a snooker club. As it is, the jaunty angles used on some of the letters suggest fun and silliness. Alas, losing your hard-earned money on a few bets too many is never much fun, so it's just plain wrong on that particular level.
Remember, everyone - always gamble responsibly (or not at all, if possible). And as these companies are finding out, when the fun stops, stop.