Premier League outfit Stoke City is renaming its Britannia Stadium to The bet365 Stadium for the next six years from the start of the 2016/17 season. The gambling giant has secured a naming rights agreement with Stoke City’s owners, and has also extended its short sponsorship deal for an additional three years.
It is a move that has raised eyebrows in the world of football as there are those who believe the deal is designed to circumvent the Financial Fair Play rules set out by European football’s governing body UEFA.
Bet365 is a privately-owned gambling company owned, based in Stoke-on-Trent, that is owned jointly by Peter, John, and Denise Coates. Peter Coates, listed as the 25th richest person in British football, is the Chairman of bet365, but is also the majority shareholder and Chairman of Stoke City F.C.
By renaming the stadium and extending the shirt sponsorship deal, the Coates family can inject cash into the club in a seemingly legitimate was as the money earned from these deals is considered to be revenue generated by the club.
Tony Scholes, the Chief Executive of Stoke City, failed to mention these facts when he said of the deals, “The Premier League is constantly evolving and to ensure that Stoke City remain as competitive as possible it’s important we explore as many ways as possible of generating revenue. As supporters are no doubt aware the Britannia brand no longer exists and it was important that we attracted a new stadium naming rights partner. The Premier League is watched around the world and bet365 are a truly global company. We are delighted that we have been able to reach an agreement with them over the stadium naming rights for an initial six year period, along with the extension of their shirt sponsorship agreement.
“bet365 are taking over from Britannia and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Britannia and the Co-operative Bank for their tremendous support over the past 19 years. We also felt the time was right to redevelop the corner of the ground between the DPD and Marston’s Pedigree Stands. Planning permission has been in place for some time but it was important we carried out the work when we felt the Club was ready for an increase in seat capacity.”
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