Australian A-League football club Melbourne Victory has ended its sponsorship deal with Kaishi Entertainment over concerns regarding the Hong Kong-based media agency's alleged links to an online gambling operator.
Earlier this week, Victory dropped Kaishi branding from its kit ahead of a game in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, taking to the field without a main shirt sponsor for the match with Korean team Daegu FC.
Victory had been made aware of Kaishi’s supposed links with online betting operator KashBet and vowed to investigate before deciding whether to continue its relationship with the agency. The club had originally announced its partnership with Kaishi, covering shirt sponsorship in the AFC Champions League, earlier this month.
AFC rules state that clubs competing in its tournaments cannot carry the name or brand of a gambling company on its shirts. The AFC had initially cleared the deal with Kaishi ahead of the match.
The club has now said that it will not be entering an agreement with Kaishi for the AFC Champions League or in any other capacity due to its concerns over the gambling links, despite Kaishi stating that it is not involved with KashBet.
“The club’s concerns remain that this company has links to online gambling, thus sits outside AFC guidelines and our internal policies, despite their representations otherwise,” Victory said. “The club would again like to thank the Football Federation Australia and AFC for their support and assistance on the matter.”
Victory has now named consumer electronics brand TCL Electronics as its front-of-shirt sponsor for the remainder of the 2019 AFC Champions League campaign.