Bwin adds Italy's Juventus to soccer sponsorship ranks

LONDON (Reuters) - Online gambling company has agreed a three-year ‘digital sponsorship’ deal with Italian soccer champions Juventus, its fourth partnership with a top European team.

Bwin had been shirt sponsor of Spain’s Real Madrid for the past six seasons but has shifted its strategy to try to tap into the online fan base of some of Europe’s best-supported teams, looking for a broader spread of deals to build market share.

It did not say what the deal with Juventus - nicknamed the Old Lady in Italian soccer - was worth.

Bwin also has digital linkups with Real Madrid, English champions Manchester United and Champions League winners Bayern Munich, allowing connections on club websites to Bwin’s sports betting pages.

Bwin said it expected to announce tie-ups with other teams in coming weeks. France, Belgium and Greece are other European markets where it could seek soccer sponsorships.

The company said earlier this week that lower returns from sports betting and competition in bingo in Britain and Italy had pushed its second-quarter revenue below expectations.

Dubai-based airline Emirates has replaced bwin as the name on Madrid’s shirts. Top clubs can charge upwards of 25 million euros (21.5 million pounds) per season for shirt sponsorships which give brands global exposure.

Based in the northern city of Turin and with historic links to the powerful Agnelli family, Juventus is the most successful club in Italian soccer.

The club was demoted to the second division in 2006 and stripped of two league titles for its role in one of the match-fixing scandals that have dogged the Italian game in recent years. But it made an instant return to the top division and has won the Italian league two years in a row.

Editing by David Holmes