Villa have followed yesterday’s announcement that the shirt sponsorship deal with gambling firm W88 is to cease, with the news today that ‘Cazoo’ will replace them.
Whilst shirt sponsors are a ‘love it or hate it’ type of debate, it is pleasing that Villa have opted that their ‘principal partner’ is no longer a gambling firm. The W88 deal came after similar partnerships with Unibet and 32Red respectively.
Whilst it’s not The Villa Underground’s role to preach Villa’s corporate moral compass, the close association of gambling and football sits rather uneasily. You cannot escape the industries incessant and never abating marketing push across all digital media and stadia throughout the footballing world.
Indeed, the University of Bath’s research into the impacts and effects of gambling inside and outside football (and more specifically supporters) was laid bare in a Guardian article in January 2019.
A sobering £14.4bn was lost by people betting in the UK from April 2017 to March 2018 according to the Gambling Commission.
The association and promotion of betting companies has also sat in contrast to what must be a football clubs main income generators: the sale of replica football shirts.
Whilst there is an ardent and insatiable appetite for shirts generally, it is prohibited to feature gambling promotion on children’s kits. It’s been a puzzle, therefore, whether the trade-off from a sponsor negatively impacting lucrative sales of this nature is actually worth it.
Cazoo will feature across all of Villa’s kit range, including training wear, youth and women’s side. It brings a long overdue continuity, if nothing else.
A slight eyebrow raiser, perhaps, was a bizarre marketing heavy quote attributed to Villa’s Chief Commercial Officer, Nicola Ibbetson;
Alongside several planned activations and fan engagement activities, all generations of Villa fans will be able to wear replica shirts that faithfully resemble those of their on-pitch heroes with the Cazoo branding appearing on all replica kit.
Putting aside our excitement for ‘activations’ and ‘engagement’, there is an unusual notion that our younger supporters crave the sponsor logo in order to achieve a state of satisfaction. I’m sure Cazoo and company are lovely, but no Villa fan, young or old will be lying awake at night at the prospect of feeling complete by adorning a club sponsor.
I like Muller yoghurt as much as the next person, but I made nor make any connection to it and my heroes.
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Whilst fanciful and not commercially viable, the fact is that we’d rather have nothing desecrating the shirt at all. Surely? However, the reality is we must and it’s a positive step away from a totally undesirable industry.
Cazoo are a relatively new company that specialises in online car buying. Their CEO and founder Alex Chesterman comes with some pedigree, having prior success establishing LoveFilm and Zoopla.
Interestingly, Cazoo have also been announced as sponsoring Everton . Remarkably, it will means it’s the first time a junior kit with a sponsor can be sold at Goodison Park since 2003.