When people are questioning brand affiliations, the smart thing that companies, and retailers like Market Sports would do is to distance themselves from the brands being scrutinized, like what happened with automotive teams and tobacco companies in Australia.
General consensus is that that’s not what the Brisbane Lions did, as they’re looking to announce that the team will be keeping the logo of Neds, a sports betting company, for an additional two years.
Reports say that the Lions have reached a new in-principle agreement with Neds, a Queensland bookmaking company, which became a co-major partner for the Lions just before the season, after SOOW, the tech start-up, reportedly failed to make payments with the team, which then resulted in the club getting stuck financially, just a few weeks from the first round of the season.
As part of their initial deal, the Neds logo was featured on the front of the Lions’ jumpers for home games, whilst being positioned at the back for away games, alternating spots with the club’s other co-major partners, Oaks Hotels and Resorts.
The AFL itself has to approve of the new arrangement, and, should that happen, the Neds’ orange logo will be a fixture of the Lions’ jumper at least until the 2021 season ends. With that, of course, brings the possibility of a lot of media exposure for Neds, given that it’s agreed upon that the Lions are currently on track for making a long-awaited appearance in the finals after a decade, which many attribute to the leadership of Coach Chris Fagan.
Stores like Market Sports don’t run into branding from betting agencies much, as many AFL clubs, particularly in Victoria, have opted to avoid partnering with betting agencies, instead partnering up with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, in support of the ‘Love the game, not the odds’ campaign.
It’s generally seen that the Lions made the pragmatic decision to partner up with Neds as the betting company provides the club with key financial stability, which they believe outweighs the cost of the mild backlash they’re being hit with due to the partnership.
This partnership comes following the 10-match suspension that Collingwood forward Jaidyn Stephenson got hit with, following the reveal that he was betting on his own team’s matches in the earlier games of the season, an issue that could lead the AFL to lose millions in partnership revenue.
People have called the Lions and the AFL out on their partnerships, and their actions regarding gambling in the league, like Western Bulldogs president, Peter Gordon.
He says that, having spent time as a class action lawyer litigating against big tobacco companies, marketing can avoid targeting children as part of their demographic, but it can affect them, all the same, which means that the league is responsible on what and how they market.