26 August 2020 06:34
Southampton will become the latest Premier League club with a gambling company on the front of their shirt after being forced into changing the main sponsor on the eve of the season. Southampton made the switch, and will now display Sportsbet.oi's logo, following growing concerns about previous sponsor LD Sports and their ability to fulfil the terms of the £7.5million-a-season, three year deal that began last summer. The deal announced on Monday is just for the forthcoming season when, currently, seven top-flight clubs will have betting firms as their chief sponsor. Southampton have been conducting urgent tests on replica kits to see whether they can replace the sponsor logo or will need to provide brand new shirts to fans after their deal with LD Sports was abruptly ended. The club decided to terminate what was a three-year contract with the Chinese company amid fears over future funding and failing to "secure confirmation" that they were "still an appropriate and viable partner".
LD Sports were only one year into the deal and, while Southampton did receive the full £6.5 million payment for the first season, concerns had escalated over whether the company would be able to fulfill the contract next season. They have now instead signed up with Sportsbet.io, a cryptocurrency-based sports betting platform which also sponsors Watford and Brazilian club Flamengo. Southampton said that they had been "left with no alternative" and, with Sportsbet.io only signing up for the 2020-21 season, they are also now searching for a new long-term partner. Job number one was to make sure we had a viable and brilliant sponsor to provide the funds we needed." Southampton are majority owned by Gao Jisheng, a Chinese businessman, but say that he was not involved in the LD Sports deal. TALLINN, Estonia, Aug. 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/--Southampton Football Club is pleased to announce that it has signed a one-year contract with Sportsbet.io to become the new main club partner and front-of-shirt sponsor for the 2020/21 Premier League season.
Related Images Southampton have announced an abrupt end to their sponsorship arrangement with LD Sports, suggesting that the Chinese brand is no longer an appropriate and viable partner. The club have struck a one-year deal at short notice with Sportsbet.io and the online gambling company will be their front-of-shirt sponsor for the 2020-21 season. It is hugely embarrassing for Southampton, less than three weeks before the start of the new campaign, and they have pledged to work with supporters who have bought LD Sports-sponsored shirts to provide a suitable solution. Southampton are owned by Gao Jisheng, a Chinese businessman, and the deal with LD Sports was said to have been struck by one of his China-based employees. Southampton said in a statement: "Over the last week, we have endeavoured to secure confirmation that LD Sports are still an appropriate and viable partner for the club but have been left with no alternative other than to end the partnership today with immediate effect.
The premature end to the LD Sports agreement comes just two and a half weeks before the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season and with many supporters having already bought new kit sporting the logo of the Chinese firm. As a result, Southampton said today: "The club has also taken the difficult decision to temporarily halt all sales of home, away and third kits. Fans who have already purchased a 20-21 home, away or third shirt with LD Sports on the front are kindly asked for their patience and understanding at this time whilst the club resolves what is an extremely complex situation and sources a solution for updating their shirts."