South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) has given the green light to permit sponsorships from gambling operators, marking what is seen to be an embarrassing climbdown from the league’s hardline stance on the issue two years ago.
Following a legal dispute with Cape Town City, the league prosecuted the team after it had agreed a sponsorship deal with Kenyan betting firm, SportPesa. It is a complete reversal by the PSL and its chairman Irvin Khoza, who has previously hit back at Cape Town City for defying his instructions not to do a deal with SportPesa in 2017.
After holding a meeting with the Board of Governors, it was concluded that football clubs will be able to make deals with betting companies as long as it is for shirt sponsorship only and does not involve any betting-related activity.
The dispute with Cape Town City is still awaiting arbitration, with the case delay implying that the PSL is wishing to brush over the matter.
John Comitis, the owner of Cape Town City, was threatened with penalties in addition to potential expulsion from the PSL following the team’s 2017-18 deal with SportPesa.
Comitis was warned against signing a deal with the betting operator, and many in the football industry suggested at the time that City would suffer a major backlash.
The backlash originated from a 2010 piece of legislation which meant that PSL clubs were prohibited from accepting sponsorship deals with betting companies until the league had investigated the issue more thoroughly but this investigation was never carried out.
While the league has no specific rules prohibiting sports betting companies from becoming sponsors, it has requested that all clubs seek permission first.