Southampton are reportedly set to lose around £2m after being forced to change their main shirt sponsor weeks before the 2020/21 season.
According to a report from the Telegraph, Saints will have to take this financial hit and could have to replace the replica kits that fans have already purchased this year.
Saints now have Sportsbet.io – a sports betting company based in cryptocurrency – as their new sponsor. Given that the club very rarely chooses to go into a partnership with gambling firms, it is important to note that this deal is for one year only.
LD Sports were said to be providing Saints with £7.5m per year to be the main club sponsor and a total of £22.5m over their three-year agreement.
Given that Saints are set to now lose £2m from the next year of sponsorship, it is fair to suggest that their deal with Sportsbet.io is in the region of £5.5m.
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In all, Saints’ time with LD Sports will go down as a mystery.
Little was known about the Chinese company when they were announced as shirt sponsor at St Mary’s back in 2018 and little is known about them now.
Links to club majority shareholder Jisheng Gao will not go away despite Saints insisting that he has nothing to do with them. It is clear that Saints were trying to grab a share of the growing Chinese football market though.
With a club-record £22.5m over a three-year agreement, it is easy to see why Saints chose to go with them but, ultimately, this figure proved too good to be true.
As mentioned in the Telegraph’s article, it will be vital to try and find a new sponsor for next year and beyond – hopefully one that is willing to pay a similar amount to LD Sports.
It is unknown whether this is likely due to the financial strains put on many businesses by the Coronavirus but additional funds will be crucial to helping Saints reach their full potential in the next few years.