November 13, 2009

Wisła and Lech could lose their sponsors

KKS Lech Poznan and Wisla Krakow and may lose their strategic sponsors! This is due to happen if a new law in Poland is passed to force gambling out of the country. The announcement of the very possible law was made on Tuesday, by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

The bill is to be ready by mid-November. One of its objectives is to ban online betting in Poland on the Internet. As a result, people would not be able to organize bets or take part in them. Betting services will also not be able to advertise their firms.
Taxes will drastically increase to issue state services to effectively control and enforce the new law on such betting companies and the people using them. This law is said to be Poland's gambling revolution.

Wisla Krakow and Lech Poznan are therefore facing a serious problem, because their sponsors are both important strategic players in the gambling market, respectively Bet-at-home and BetClic. The two top tier clubs signed contract agreements with the bookmakers this year. In February, the White Star has signed a two-year contract with Bet-at-home while in June the Kolejorz inked a three-year deal with BetClic.

"I can say that this is one of the best sponsorship contracts in the history of Polish football," boasted the Chief of Marketing of Lech, Michal Lipczyński.

"If this law passes it would be catastrophic and a step backwards in terms of the club's finances. All Polish clubs have left now is our sponsoring, and even that is being taken away."

One thing is for certain, if the law comes into force, Lech will have to find another big and well known sponsor as BetClic - a task that will not come easy considering the club's current poor league form.

"We will be forced to withdraw from supporting Lech Poznan." announced Tomasz Wlodarczyk of BetClic.

If Lech do part ways with BetClic, it would also mean Lech's big transfer budget for the winter transfer window would disappear, along with any friendlies scheduled with other BetClic sponsored club. The two other clubs sponsored are Olympique Lyon and Olympique de Marseille, with the latter scheduled to play the Polish outfit in a friendly match next year.

Around Europe, some the world's largest clubs are sponsored by internet bookmakers. Bwin has under his tutelage even giants Real Madrid and AC Milan. In Zurich, during the UEFA Champions League the Spaniards were forced to play without Bwin's logo on the club shirt, because of anti-gambling laws in Switzerland. Similarly the same in Belgium, where Lech Poznan played against Club Brugge in UEFA Europa League action. However, the Polish team unlike Real Madrid were able to play with their bookmaker sponsor logo, but as a result the company had to accept to take all the responsibility themselves.

It should also be mentioned, that the Second Division of Poland is also sponsored by a bookmaking company - Unibet. If the league losses it's sponsor, then it is very possible many of the clubs may fall into serious financial trouble.

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