Aston Villa face new, severe backlash over controversial shirt sponsor BK8

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The announcement of the Villans’ new sponsor, BK8, has caused an uproar.

The Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust has released a furious statement in response to the club’s decision to agree on casino and betting company BK8 becoming the front-of-shirt sponsor.

As announced on Thursday, just a matter of hours before the new home kit was unveiled, BK8 has become the lead partner for all jerseys across the next three seasons.

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Norwich City previously had a similar agreement with BK8 but subsequently cut ties with immediate effect, acknowledging the company’s release of heavily sexualised advertisements.

Villa have ignored this previous dispute, however, and gone ahead with the deal. BK8’s commitment to charity work was referenced to reason with supporters, but the call hasn’t gone down well.

What did the AVST statement say?

On behalf of the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust, Clair and Club Liaison, Mo Razzaq, said: “The AVST is highly disappointed with the Club’s announcement of a Principal Partnership with BK8 as its front-of-short sponsor.

“In January, several Villa fan groups put together a joint statement expressing concerns over the reported discussions with BK8, highlighting the social and mental health harms caused by problem gambling with over 400 gambling suicides annually in the UK and millions more harmed.

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“We also expressed concerns about BK8’s misogynistic marketing practices and the reversal of the Club’s stance on not having a front-of-shirt gambling sponsor.

“At the time, we were given assurances over the Club’s due diligence process and advised that the misogynistic marketing practices were that of a BK8 affiliate.

“Though we acknowledge the commercial reality, we sadly feel that the Club has failed to listen to the legitimate concerns of fans about the role of gambling sponsorship in sports.

“Furthermore, as part of the agreement, BK8 will contribute a portion of the sales of the third shirt to a local charity. Whilst we welcome funding for good causes, it should not come at the expense of others.

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“Similarly, whilst we understand fans, players and Club staff alike want Villa to be as successful as possible, that should not come at the expense of exposing fans to the exploitative practices of gambling operators, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.

“The BK8 agreement is a cynical last-minute attempt to scoop the financial gains ahead of the voluntary ban on front-of-shirt gambling sponsors taking effect from the 2026-27 season.

“The Trust sincerely hopes that the Club, under the leadership of newly appointed Global President of Business Operations – Chris Heck, will be guided by fan representation in future matters.”

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