The energetic Australian arm of Betfair has inked a six-figure marketing sponsorship deal with the NRL club Wests Tigers which will see Tigers fans exposed to Betfair at each of the club's three home grounds - the SFS, Campbelltown and Leichhardt. They will be shown how to bet in booths set up outside the entrance; the big screen will run ads; promotional girls will hand out literature; there will be commercials read over the PA system and, of course, there will be signage at the grounds.
But shirt advertising will be shunned on "moral and ethical" grounds.
Clubs are increasingly feeling the economic pinch, and are looking further afield for sponsorship these days, reports the Australian media. Online betting agencies are viewed by some club chief executives as the short-term saviour, media reports claim. There was a flurry of activity before Christmas as betting agencies jostled to get on board with an NRL club while clubs jumped through hoops to secure their cash.
The Tigers and Betfair forged their alliance after a year's worth of negotiations. During that time, the football club also conducted a thorough due-diligence study on the company to ensure its supporters - and their own corporate credibility - would not be compromised by actively endorsing the British wagering company.
"It is a sensitive area, and we had to make sure any deal was the right fit," Wests Tigers marketing manager Brett Clarke said. "The NRL has ticked the boxes about this deal. The fact is we aren't going to force our supporters to bet; it's not as if we are going to say, 'Prove you're a Wests Tigers fan and bet.'
"There is no obligation. However, we are allowing them the opportunity, those who gamble, to be aware of Betfair's services."
Unlike a number of rival clubs, which have given their names to front a gambling site in the hope they will share in profits, the Wests Tigers accepted a traditional upfront payment.
"We're in partnership, not sponsorship," Clarke said of the alliance. "We will deliver key marketing objectives. We aren't being promised revenue share. It is a marketing split."
Betfair's Hugh Taggart said while the AFL provided the bulk of their business last year, they had more customers in New South Wales than anywhere else in Australia. He said the company was prudent in linking itself with AFL team Hawthorn and the Tigers.
The Wests Tigers, according to the Roy Morgan data company, has 490,000 fans, making it the best-supported team in NSW. The club has a secure future with three leagues clubs, a strong sponsorship base, a lucrative merchandising side to their business and a healthy membership base. It also had the highest crowd numbers in the Australian capital of Sydney over the past three years.
Betfair's Taggart said: "We've entered into an integrity agreement with the NRL, as we have with our other sporting authorities around Australia including Cricket Australia, the AFL, PGA and Tennis Australia. The agreement enables us to provide them with information, and our account base. When our customers sign with us they waive their rights to anonymity. If there is anything that appears suspicious we can hand the records over to the NRL. We have a transparent model."
Source: InfoPowa News