Football at steps three and four suffered a significant financial blow in April when a betting company that supported all three competitions – the Isthmian, Southern and Northern Leagues – terminated its sponsorship of the competitions.
The bookmaker in question had only come on board in the summer of 2019, succeeding Evo-Stik as sponsor of the competitions and was less than half way through a two year deal when a break clause was activiated.
As of Wednesday night though, the group of three leagues – apparently known collectively as the Trident Leagues (apparently, because that’s a new one to us!) – will be known by the sponsorship prefix of ‘Pitching In’.
What is Pitching In?
Pitching In is, according to the website, a corporate responsibility arm of GVC Holdings which is ‘a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports. The programme launches at a time when football clubs and sporting organisations are facing an unprecedented impact on their finances of the COVID-19 pandemic.’
The programme is in short supplying financial support as well as aiming to facilitate and encourage community volunteers to ‘pitch in’.
None other than former England and Nottingham Forest captain Stuart Pearce is an ambassador for the programme and you can watch a video of him chatting about it below.
The initiative has been backed by the chairmen of all three leagues as well as celebrity chef and Marlow fan Tom Kerridge.
So no more betting companies?
Well, yes and no. Certainly, there will be no more betting ads on club websites, no restrictions around who can and can’t see advertising and essentially, a whole lot less stress for club administrators.
The business behind Pitching In though, GVC Holdings is one of the biggest sports-betting and gaming groups including brands like Coral and Ladbrokes.
BUT! The sponsorship provided by Pitching In will not include any promotion of betting or gaming brands. According to the companies website: “
In line with the decision taken by GVC in 2019, to unilaterally pull-out of sponsorship of football in the UK, the Pitching In partnership will not promote any of the Group’s betting or gaming brands and no branding will be used at any of the leagues’ grounds.
“Where GVC will contribute its expertise to deliver extensive educational programmes on responsible gambling and sports integrity to all of the leagues’ clubs.”
You can read more about Pitching In and GVC Holdings here.