Aston Villa have struck a shirt sponsorship deal with controversial gaming company BK8.
Despite concerns from their fans, Villa confirmed the three-year partnership on Thursday, taking them to 2026 when Premier League clubs will no longer promote betting companies on their shirts.
Norwich City removed BK8 as a sponsor in 2021 for sexually provocative advertising.
In January this year, the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust (AVST) claimed they had been misled by the club after former chief executive Christian Purslow said gambling companies would not be prosecuted as sponsors main.
AVST then said they were “extremely disappointed” and called on the club to “reassess” their deal with Asian outfit BK8.
Controversial Asian betting firm BK8 to take over as Aston Villa shirt front sponsor
Villa announced the sponsorship deal with the Asian gaming company on Thursday
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker has questioned the deal, but the Premier League’s ban on betting companies on the front of the shirt doesn’t come into effect until 2026.
They met with the club to raise their concerns, but Villa went through with the deal.
In April, Premier League clubs collectively agreed to remove gambling sponsorship from the front of matchday shirts – which is worth an estimated £60million a year – from the start of the season. 2026-27.
But until then there is nothing stopping top clubs from advertising betting companies on the front of their shirts and gambling brands can remain on shirt sleeves and on stadium advertising boards. .
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker asked on Twitter after Villa’s announcement: ‘Thought clubs weren’t going to have game sponsors on shirts anymore?’
Villa Statement stated that BK8 was to join as their “new lead partner and shirt front”.
BK8 has pledged to donate to charity in Birmingham for every third adult shirt sold.
A Villa spokesperson said: “Through this partnership with BK8, we look forward to exciting collaborations that will help grow both brands, particularly in South East Asia.”
Earlier this year, AVST released a statement in conjunction with campaign group Gambling with Lives which read: “Our club does not hold itself to a high enough standard, particularly when it comes to the ethics of gambling deals. sponsorship.
“Sexualizing women to promote a gambling company and get fans to bet is certainly not what Aston Villa Football Club is.
The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust have expressed concerns over the tie-up with BK8
Norwich cut ties with shirt sponsor BK8 after fan outcry over sex marketing
Norwich ended the deal after the company used provocative images to promote its services
“Although the club has acknowledged the concerns of the supporters to the potential sponsor, we have not received any explanation or clarification of the agreement.
“We remind them of their duty to protect fans from the harms of the game and not to discredit its name or reputation.
“Unfortunately, this incident is not the first time the club have entered into a controversial sponsorship deal.”
“It is unlikely to be the last unless the club urgently acknowledges the issues mentioned in this statement and, without delay, re-evaluates its agreement with BK8.”
In June 2021, BK8 were forced to apologize for sexually provocative marketing – including mock sex acts with a sausage – after becoming Norwich’s shirt sponsor.
The club then dropped the £5million deal with BK8 shortly after.
The Supporters’ Trust has claimed former chief executive Christian Purslow has said the club will no longer seek betting companies to be sponsors
Villa supporters denounced the new deal on Twitter when it was announced on Thursday
Canary fans have pointed out some of the company’s marketing materials online, some of which have been removed.
An Instagram account that claims to belong to a BK8 “ambassador” with over a quarter of a million followers directly linked to hardcore pornography, Athleticism reported at the time.
On BK8’s Thai-language YouTube channel, a video was posted in 2019 with half a million views showing four young women simulating a sex act on a sausage. The clip was made private on Monday afternoon and then removed.
Another video showed women faking sex but without the nudity that would have triggered YouTube’s strict filters.
A Norwich spokesperson then said: “Norwich City are aware of a series of marketing messages on the social media accounts of our new lead partners, BK8.”
“These publications and marketing do not align with Norwich City’s wider vision and values and we will review our due diligence process going forward.”
“We accept that this form of marketing is not suitable for a Premier League partnership.
“We have immediately removed all marketing material of this nature and will conduct a review of our marketing strategy going forward.”