Late last year, The Football League and its primary sponsor and partner Sky Bet agreed a new three year title sponsorship deal. Sky Bet has sponsored the League since 2013 and this latest deal will commence in August 2016, running until at least 2019.
We caught up with Ed Martin, Head of Sponsorship for Sky Bet, to reflect on the partnership deal and discuss the relationship they have with the Football League, clubs and the fans.
SBC: Morning Ed. After working with the Football League since July 2013, what convinced Sky Bet to carry on with the partnership and push for this new three year deal?
EM: The partnership has been an extremely powerful tool for us as a business, allowing us to connect with fans across 72 communities in a way that has helped to drive significant improvements in our brand metrics.
Independent research has shown us that we quickly became the bookmaker of choice for fans of Football League clubs and we feel that this isn’t something that you can replicate without having that legitimate connection with the fans.
We are continuing to see improvements in our key metrics across the board and, complimented by our wider marketing strategy, we feel we can utilise the relationship further to not only benefit our customers but to also be part of making the game better for fans.
SBC: And is there anything different about the new agreement starting in 2016?
EM: One obvious change for the fans will be how things look after the recent ‘EFL’ re-brand. There are other exciting ‘game changing’ initiatives in the pipeline but you’ll have to watch this space!
SBC: Okay, we’ll watch this space! Can you confirm any specific marketing changes you will make on your side to ensure the partnership continues to be a success?
EM: Our approach has been and always will be to continuously make improvements to what we do. We will continue to develop campaigns that benefit our customers and fans of Football League clubs and we will continue to listen to fans to identify when we might be able to use our relationship with the Football League and the 72 clubs to help make a difference to their experience in and around the game.
SBC: It’s great that you continue to prioritise the fans, but what about the clubs? Upon closing the deal, the Football League reported the agreement will deliver increased revenue to the clubs; can you disclose any extra details around this?
EM: There has been an increase in the fee and we have also further improved the way each of the Football League clubs can earn revenue share payments from referred customers. We felt this was important in order to further cement the feeling with clubs that this is a partnership and not a traditional sponsorship.
SBC: We understand the previous deal included that Sky Bet would become default betting partner for Football League clubs; does this agreement still stand?
EM: In our role as Title Sponsor, we are the Official Betting Partner of the Football League. With the presence of a profit share model which is designed to provide clubs with an ongoing revenue stream, this extends to each of the 72 Football League clubs.
SBC: Looking ahead to the business end of the football season, Sky Bet will continue to be the title sponsor of the Play Offs; is this the most exciting time of the year for the sponsorship deal?
EM: The Sky Bet Play-Off weekend is certainly one of the most exciting times of the year, especially given what is at stake for clubs involved. The atmosphere around Wembley over that 3 day weekend is palpable and you can see from the reaction of the fans that the adage of it being the best way to go up but the worst way to lose is definitely true.
However, the excitement levels peak for us whenever we get to witness clubs win promotion regardless of the competition they are playing in and whether they go up automatically or via the Play-Offs.
SBC: And finally, what are your hopes for the end of this Sky Bet Football League season; sudden death penalty shoot outs at Wembley?
EM: From a branding point of view, penalties at Wembley are great but for the sake of the fan’s nerves, we’d always opt for a winner to be decided before spot kicks! We certainly wouldn’t turn down a repeat of last year’s finish to the Sky Bet Championship season.
With 3 games to go, we had 6 teams who could’ve been crowned Champions and it finally boiled down to a 91 minute equaliser at Watford to hand Bournemouth the title. That level of excitement is a great advert for the Football League’s competitions which can only help to have a positive impact on our partnership.
Ed Martin, Head of Sponsorship.
A league of their own? To learn about the opportunities that remain in the Football League after Sky Bet’s deal, register for Betting on Football 2016!
The conference is on Thursday 21st April at Stamford Bridge; tickets are available at the Early Bird Price of £200 (+VAT) until the end of February!