The official announcement is here, but after three seasons of the competition being called the nPower Football league, Sky Bet have taken over the role of title sponsor.
I’m trying hard not to be too cynical here, but this decision is based on two factors. Firstly, with Sky Sports monopoly of televised football being ended with the deal that gives BT Sport a handful of Premier League matches but all of the rights to Aviva Premiership rugby union games, Sky’s football coverage needs to expand.
Secondly – as is demonstrated in the first couple of paragraphs of the press release – this decision is about increasing brand awareness and use of Sky Bet, which is another way of saying that Rupert Murdoch wants your money.
Sky Bet’s managing director Richard Flint’s comment that ‘…in the past fans would go into a betting shop on the way to the ground’ was probably true as recently as the late 1990s, but the arrival of Betfair changed the betting landscape forever. The emphasis on mobile apps is basically an acknowledgement that Sky Bet are targetting younger, tech savvy users rather than ‘traditional’ punters.
Although I’m happy to welcome any move that increases the promotion of the Football League as an alternative to the rich man’s playground that the Premier League has become, I’d also like to point out that other betting companies are available and that Sky Bet’s prices are not always the best – it’s always worth remembering that if you want to buy a pair of shoes, you’re not limited to just one shop.
All that remains is the inevitable embarrasing advertising campaign, which will probably emerge over the next couple of weeks. However, more exciting than that is the news that next week I’ll be publishing the first part of the season preview!