Plus500 may have to ditch Atletico Madrid if European regulators rule football offside

Oliver Gill
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Plus500 signed a fresh €45m three-year sponsorship deal with Atletico Madrid last November (Source: Plus500)

Britain’s second-biggest online financial trading platform is ready to sever ties with one of Europe’s biggest football clubs if a regulatory crackdown requires it to do so.

Plus500, the lead sponsor of Atletico Madrid, said it will comply with any measures the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) puts in place.

“It may that ESMA will ban sports sponsorship,” Plus500 chief executive Asaf Elimelech told City A.M.. “If that will be the case, we can definitely say that we can comply with the requirements, whatever they may be.”

In response to whether this would leave 2016 UEFA Champions League finalists Atletico without a sponsor, Elimelech said: “It may be the case; we have measures in place to mitigate these kinds of things.”

Plus500’s comments come just three months after inking a new €45m (£40m) three-season sponsorship deal with 10-time Spanish league champions.

They also follow remarks by the boss of larger rival IG Group. Peter Hetherington labelled the level of complex financial product advertising at football games a "disgrace".

Read more: Spreadbetting chief blasts Ronaldo and attacks “crazy” football advertising

Shares in the Aim-quoted firm, which has a market capitalisation more than double that of main market listed CMC Markets, were broadly flat this afternoon. They had jumped earlier today in the wake of a 70 per cent growth in profits.

Dividends almost doubled to $1.6867 per share.

2017’s bitcoin boom helped Plus500 by attracting new customers. And Elimelech said such customers went on to trade other other financial instruments available on the company’s platform.

ESMA’s crackdown on the wider spreadbetting sector also includes a reduction in the level of risk customers can take out and a ban on certain inducements and advertising.

Read more: Plus500 nets €45m Atletico Madrid sponsorship deal

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