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Major League Soccer to Form First Partnerships with Sports Betting
MLS (Major League Soccer) has just set a precedent by becoming the first professional sports league in the USA and Canada to allow sports betting sponsors’ logos across the league’s apparel.
The discussions about the policy changes lasted for months and the final decision seems to have been reached in one of the last two meetings held in December 2018 and April 2019.
Changes Effective Immediately
The practice that has been active for years in other sports sectors has finally squeezed its way into the MLS. From now on, the sponsors will be able to purchase space on jersey fronts and sleeves, the latter coming into effect at the start of 2020.
In order to fully preserve the integrity of the sport and avoid potential controversies, the league’s board of governors has exempted the youth jerseys from the new arrangement.
Negotiations with Sports Brands Ahead of Time
Numerous MLS clubs had already been in the midst of discussing possible partnerships with sports betting brands before the new regulation was even confirmed. The premature negotiations were mostly held within the states that legalize sports betting or where sports gambling is expected to become legal in the near future. For the time being, it seems that no sponsors have managed to secure their sleeve space.
According to Carter Ladd, the Senior Vice President of Business Development at MLS & Soccer United Marketing, the commercial guideline reforms have been triggered by the new trends in the gambling industry. Ladd also confirmed that MLS clubs are already on the quest for suitable sponsors and said that some of the deals might even be successfully completed this year.
Apart from advertising the sponsors on their apparels, MLS teams will also have the opportunity to provide their own live betting feeds in collaboration with licensed operators. The updated commercial guidelines are also expected to create new revenue sources and place MLS “at the forefront of the North American landscape”, says Ladd.
Major League Soccer is men’s professional soccer league regulated by the United States Soccer Federation. The league consists of 24 teams, 3 of which are located in Canada.
MLS teams compete in MLS Cup Playoffs (leading to MLS Cup), US Open Cup, the Canadian Championship and CONCACAF Champions League. By 2022, the league is expected to expand and add 4 more teams.