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Betting on Italian Football: Is It Still Worth a Business?

May 15, 2014 News & Reports

By Quirino Mancini, Partner, SCM LAWYERS

At a time when Italian football is offering the world its worst face both on and off the pitch as shown also by the recent street riots between Rome FC and Naples FC during the Italian Cup final that took place in Rome in early May, one asks himself if investing on Serie A clubs is still a wise and worth business.  The instinctive answer will probably be negative for many bearing in mind that Italy has now plummeted in the official UEFA ranking, unlike all other first-tier European leagues where the trend of average crowds is upwards, the number of Italian supporters going to the stadium is constantly shrinking, hooliganism and racism are thriving in most football arenas of the Peninsula, and the vast majority of the facilities (starting from the Rome Olympic decrepit stadium) is old, run down and quite unfit for the clubs to be able to offer proper corporate hospitality packages to their sponsors.  Nevertheless, the business case that was presented by an Italian gaming operator as well as sponsor of a Serie A football club to the numerous delegates (including many Premiership clubs and UK-based bookies) of a conference staged inside Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea FC’s home ground, on 9 May showed that investing on Italian football still makes good economic sense, specially so for a gaming operator for the following main reasons:

  • The average cost of a Serie A club premium sponsor package (jersey, club’s exclusive gaming partner status and top position of the brand on the pre/post match interviews backdrop and around the pitch perimeter) is rather competitive as opposed to what one should expect to be charged in the Premierhip (UK), the Bundesliga (DE), the Liga (ES) or the Ligue 1 (FR)
  • Fewer people at the stadiums means more people watching the live match on the television, and because Italy remains a football-crazed country, by default this translates also into many more eyeballs on the sponsor’s brand and logo which is all good news for purposes of a gaming operator effectively and rapidly building its own brand recognition at these latitudes
  • The figures shown during the business case presented at the London conference confirmed that  a gaming operator linking his name and brand to an Italian football club with a loyal, sizeable and keen supporter base will get a good return on his investment in terms of regular browsers, and eventually registered players too, accessing the operator’s gaming platform from the sponsored club’s website gateway

In conclusion, even though Serie A has lost most of its charm and Italy stands very little chances (if indeed any at all) of winning the 2014 World Cup, there are still good business reasons to place a winning bet on Italian football as long as the partnership between a gaming operator and an Italian football club is accurately planned and proactively developed on both sides.

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