Football has always been immensely popular in Africa, with the continent producing a wealth of top stars over the last 40 years. This success tempted Pele to make the bold prediction that an African country would win the World Cup before 2000.
But, we’re now in 2018, and Senegal’s and Ghana’s quarter final appearance in 2002 and 2010 respectively is the closest an African nation has come. But, can Africa’s booming gambling industry provide the funds to help grow the beautiful game, and build a future for African football?
Some of the gambling sites in Africa and companies such as nairabet and co are beginning have positive impact in football and sports sponsorship in general in Africa.
Over the last ten years, the EPL has benefitted greatly from sponsorship from gambling companies. Shirt sponsors, ground naming rights, match day advertising and in play betting has benefitted the league greatly, with floods of money pouring back into the game.
The is in no part down to the influence of online gambling, and forward thinking features like in play betting and cash out offers.
This phenomenon has crossed over to Africa. Punters are more engaged than ever, with huge sums being spent betting on EPL matches (around $15 per day by young adults in Nigeria), as viewers try to make a quick buck.
Despite wagers being placed on EPL games, the money is funding African companies, with the likes of SportsPesa and Betway Uganda putting money directly back into African sport.
SportsPesa has contributed five million euros to the Kenyan league, while Betway has partnered with major African football clubs like Ashanti Gold (Ghana) and Mathare FC (Kenya), much in the way Bet 365 have done with Stoke City in the EPL.
This investment has provided much needed funds to the league and clubs, and directly allowed it to grow, despite the sums being relatively low in comparison to the sponsorship deals in Europe.
But, this is just the beginning. Online gambling on football is still in its infancy in Africa, and sponsorship deals with African clubs are still relatively new.
Despite being in their infancy, Africa’s betting companies are as savvy as their European counterparts, and will be fully aware of the fact that investing in African football will increase exposure, increase viewing figures, increase attendances and ultimately lead to punters placing more bets on football within their own country.
With increased revenue for these companies, the African league can demand more in sponsorship. Naming rights for grounds can become the norm; match day advertising, shirt sponsors etc. can follow the same template of the EPL and create a much more engaged football following in Africa.
Africa’s CAF Cup, the African Champion’s League is growing year on year, with the winning money rising by 90% in 2016, to $2.5m. This figure, despite growing significantly, is lower than what Champion’s League teams take home for a group game, with Uefa’s latest figures showing that teams receive a guaranteed minimum fixed payment of €12.7m each for the group stage, plus bonus payments of €1.5m per win and €500,000 per draw in the group stage.
This competition clearly has high sponsorship value due to its continued growth year on year, but the key is making sponsorship attractive for betting companies to avoid companies like SportsPesa, who currently sponsor Hull City, moving abroad.
With gambling becoming ever popular, the opportunity to advertise to a new audience is likely to be taken, and football clubs can capitalise by offering competitive rates to these fast growing companies to ensure they get on board, and help grow the African game from grassroots to elite professional level.