By Villa News Speaking to Alan Hutton

6th Jul, 2023 | 7:23am

Aston Villa blasted over multi-year agreement after announcement causes controversy

We’re delighted to welcome former Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Villa Park… 

Alan Hutton has hit out at the level of gambling sponsorship deals in football after Aston Villa confirmed BK8 as their new principal partner.

On 22 June, Villa announced on their official website that the online casino’s logo will be emblazoned on the front of their shirts until the end of the 2025/26 season.

Villa’s decision to strike a deal with BK8 comes at a time when gambling adverts are increasingly under the microscope in football with Premier League clubs already agreeing to stop using them as front-of-shirt sponsors from the 2026/27 season onwards [ESPN].

A lot of fans have criticised the club for their agreement with BK8 as it seems they have taken the opportunity to strike one last deal with a gambling company before that self-imposed ban comes into place.

Hutton isn’t impressed because he feels players like Ivan Toney cannot be blamed for having gambling issues when they are completely surrounded by adverts for it in football.

“It’s an interesting one because maybe halfway through last season when they were further down the league, they may have been looking for sponsorships for next season,” Hutton told Villa News.

Maybe BK8 is one they were willing to take a risk on.

When you see where they finished, they qualified for European football and the direction they’re going on, is that something they want to do?

You see the problems that arise because of gambling with the likes of Ivan Toney coming out and speaking about it. I know personally there are people within the game who struggle when it comes to gambling.

I don’t think it’s ideal to wear that sort of shirt and show that sponsorship to people out there. They could be people watching games or be in the stadium that struggling and young kids coming through will think, ‘what’s that? I want to have a look at that’.

I don’t think it’s ideal and a lot of Aston Villa supporters’ clubs have gone against it.

It’s frustrating because footballers have been done and given bans for gambling. But if you think, it’s on shirts, it’s in stadiums, it’s in programmes, it’s on at breaks if you watch the game on TV, it’s on your phone – it’s absolutely everywhere.

You’re kind of dangling a carrot in front of somebody who may or may not have a problem. ‘But don’t do it because we’re going to ban you’. It’s not fair from that football point of view and as well, when you take it to the wider public, there are people who struggle with this addiction.”

Aston Villa’s official announcement about their multi-year deal with BK8 makes no reference to the fact they are a gambling company.

In 2021, when BK8 were sponsors of Norwich, the betting firm was accused of “sexually provocative marketing”.

Norwich axed BK8 as a result.

In other Aston Villa news, the Villans have been tipped to sign this international captain with a “strange” clause in his contract.