The emergence of betting companies has saved the English Premier League shirt sponsorship industry from a second consecutive fall in value, according to an industry expert.
Andreas Ullmann, head of market intelligence at sports consultancy Sport+Markt, estimates that the value of shirt sponsorship deals in the Premier League fell from £69.2 million during the 2007-08 season to £68.2 million last season, after years of continuous growth.
He added in an interview with UK newspaper the Financial Times that the value of shirt deals will increase slightly to £70 million for the 2009-10 season thanks to the emergence of new sponsors from the betting industry.
"Without [betting companies] many clubs would have serious problems," he said. "It has become a bit more of a buyer's market in the UK as we can see from the new deals that some teams have struck with online betting companies."
Earlier this year Asia-focused online gambling company 188Bet signed deals to sponsor the shirts of both Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic for the next two seasons, understood to be worth £750,000 and £650,000 respectively to the Premier League clubs. It has also signed non-shirt sponsorship deals with Chelsea and Aston Villa.