Stoke City will be playing at the bet365 Stadium for their Premier League matches from the start of the new 2016/17 season. The Potters have signed a six-year naming rights deal with the sports betting brand, whose bosses have owned the club for more than a decade.
Fans and commentators will have to get used to referring to the ground as ‘bet365 Stadium’ rather than the ‘Britannia Stadium’ and also a new look. It will be expanded to a capacity of over 30,000 seats in time for the new season. That’s an additional 1,800 seats that are being added to one of the corners of the ground of the bet365 Stadium. The developments on the expansion will mean that the area between the DPD and Marston’s Pedigree Stands will be filled in by builders.
Use of bet365 Stadium name a growing trend
The selling of naming rights on football grounds has become a worldwide trend as clubs try to maximise the limited amount of ways that a club can generate money to try and keep with the chasing pack. Stoke’s continuing partnership with the bet365 sees an additional extension of their shirt sponsorship agreement to three more years. More money in the coffers for the Potters there, too. Bet365 have been extremely successful with the growth of online sports betting during the last decade. The introduction of mobile betting on Android and iPhone Devices has certainly extended the company’s reach.
Other notable clubs who don’t have naming rights at their home grounds (yet) include Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane, Manchester United’s Old Trafford, Liverpool’s Anfield and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. With ground moves for Spurs and Chelsea afoot, this is likely to change, though. In fact, Tottenham have already shown images of their new stadium with a “Naming Rights” placeholder. It makes a lot of sense for football clubs to do this, despite meaning that the traditional name of their home is sometimes lost.
After announcing the news of the name change, Stoke Chief Executive Tony Scholes commented: ‘The Premier League is constantly evolving and to ensure Stoke City remain as competitive as possible it’s important we explore as many ways as possible of generating revenue. As supporters are no doubt aware the Britannia brand no longer exists and it was important we attracted a new stadium naming rights partner.’
With the name change of the Britannia Stadium to the bet365 Stadium, Stoke have joined fellow Premier League clubs including Leicester City (King Power) Arsenal (Emirates), Manchester City (Etihad), Bournemouth (Vitality) in having one of their club’s main sponsors adorn the name of their home ground.
Bet365 is a local Stoke company and the Coates family have a long association with the club. Realistically, the Potters very likely would not be in the lofty position that they find themselves today without such support. John Coates, who is the joint chief executive of bet365 is also vice-chairman of Stoke City.
The previous sponsors of the newly renamed bet365 Stadium were Britannia but this is now no longer a brand since being taken over by the Co-operative Bank. Their ground sponsorship deal lasted for almost 20 years. Scholes said that the club felt that the ‘time was right’ to redevelop the corner of the ground between the DPD and Marston’s Pedigree Stands after long having the planning permission approved.
The Stoke-on-Trent success story of bet365 is the city’s largest private sector employer with around 3,000 employees. The Potters will be hoping that this timely boost in their revenue will help them to push higher up the Premier League table.