Australian Professional Leagues Goes Against Grain, Announces Neds as New Wagering Sponsor

Posted on: December 8, 2021, 10:33h. 

Last updated on: December 8, 2021, 11:49h.

While some sports organizations in Australia are shying away from gambling-related partnerships, the Australia Professional Leagues (APL) are embracing theirs. It recently brought Entain’s Neds are on board as its official wagering sponsor.

Melbourne City FC
Melbourne City FC players on the field. The team’s games could include advertising by Neds after the sportsbook signed a partnership with the Australian Professional Leagues. (Image: SoccerScene)

Under a two-year agreement, the Neds is now the official wagering sponsor for the sports group. The APL is currently the organizing body on both the men’s A-Leagues for women and men’s A-Leagues.

This agreement will grant Neds, Entain’s Australian arm, the rights to in-stadium promotions. The APL will give the company selected match signage rights and integration with live match centers for international and domestic matches. It will also receive access to content on Keepup, the A-Leagues digital content platform. A-Leagues social media channels will include the operator’s name.

James Burnett, Neds’ Chief Marketing Officer, explains that the deal provides the company with access to and control over more than 200 matches across the professional men’s & women’s leagues. Burnett shared that the A-Leagues have experienced a tremendous increase in interest because soccer is the most widely played sport in Australia and globally.

This isn’t the first time Neds has signed up with a sports organization. It previously announced a partnership agreement it struck with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). That agreement made it the official Australian betting partner of the outfit.

New Partnership Met with Some Disdain

Not everyone is thrilled about the new partnership, however. Especially, the A-League teams that have already reached an agreement with the government to sponsor anti-gambling activities.

The New South Wales (NSW) Office for Responsible Gambling established a partnership with the Western Sydney Wanderers in February 2021. The pact was to address the problem of professional sports betting being normalized. The Wanderers stated that they would reject any proposal from sports betting operators for sponsorship or proportional support.

Since all A-League club owners are treated equally as APL owners, this makes it problematic for the implementation of rules for or against certain partnerships and collaborations.

Across the country, there is a push to reduce the influence of sports betting in sports. This, too, makes the relationship between Neds and the APL difficult. A number of sports clubs have called off their partnerships with sports betting-related entities, and additional reductions are being sought.

APL Setting Its Own Pace

Perhaps the APL hopes it can show that sports and sports betting can occupy the same field without causing friction.

The organization hasn’t been afraid to break from the crowd, and this past September, proved it.

A new brand identity was revealed for the professional leagues. The youth, women’s, and men’s leagues were grouped under the A-Leagues branding in preparation for the next season. This move positioned both the A- and W-League as elite partners at the top of the game. The new A-Leagues are going to soon introduce a “ground-breaking” digital platform that is expected to “become the home of football in Australia.”

The sport is currently in transition in other ways, as well. This new season marked a new broadcasting contract with Network Ten, owned by ViacomCBS, and the latter’s new streaming service, Paramount+. That arrangement started this past May and will be in place for the next five years.