Manchester City under pressure for Kremlin-backed sponsor | Manchester City
Manchester City football club is under scrutiny from its official global betting partner Marathonbet, which is approved by the Kremlin for its gambling operations in Russia.
Marathonbet, which was established in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in 1997, is one of about 20 companies licensed in Russia for betting, according to documents from the Federal Kremlin Tax Office seen by the Observer.
The betting company has announced that it will no longer accept bets in the UK due to “recent and ongoing events in Europe”. Marathonbet has expanded its operations across Europe over the past decade and has been a sponsor of Manchester City for almost four years.
The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has urged sports clubs to review sponsorship deals following the invasion of Ukraine.
The department said in a statement released last month, “Appropriate steps should be taken to limit sponsorship and other financial support from entities with ties to Russian or Belarusian states.”
The Premier League champions announced their first-ever global betting partnership with Marathonbet in June 2018.
As part of the deal, the company agreed to provide branded betting kiosks for its fans, with its logos appearing throughout Manchester’s Etihad Stadium and on matchday interview backdrops.
He announced a new partnership in December 2019 to provide branding for the club’s training kit in a deal pioneered by manager Pep Guardiola and now-retired striker Sergio Agüero. The training kit deal ended last year, but the company is still a sponsor of the club and the Marathonbet logo was still on the club’s website this weekend.
A source at Manchester City said on Friday the sponsorship deal was “coming to an end”, but the club were unable to provide further details. Marathonbet always promotes its online betting operations with images of Manchester City players.
Marathonbet’s managing director, Natalia Zavodnik, who is based in Britain, is originally from Russia and educated at the Moscow Aviation Institute, one of the country’s leading engineering institutes. One of the company’s major shareholders previously revealed he was a Russian citizen, according to legal documents.
Since the invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s forces, some other betting companies, including Bet365, have reportedly ceased operations in Russia.
The Marathonbet website is still active in Russia, but has decided to no longer register new accounts in the UK or accept bets from people in the country. He said he would continue to operate in Spain, Denmark and Italy.
The betting company has a UK company, Panserve, which provides support services for betting operations, and a Channel Islands company, Marathon Alderney Ltd, which is regulated by the Gambling Commission.
The company did not respond to a request for comment last week.