“Follow Leyu,” Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta said in a stylish promotional video to mark a new trade deal between the European champions and Leyu Sports.
You’d be forgiven for not hearing about the company, an obscure Asian gambling company with little to no digital footprint outside of the eye-catching sponsorship deals with Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.
And listening to Azpilicueta’s instructions and following Leyu on the social media website LinkedIn only leads to a bizarre rabbit hole of fake profile photos, deleted accounts, and a seemingly non-existent brand agency.
It’s a rabbit hole that raises serious questions for Chelsea – who help spread Leyu’s branding around Stamford Bridge, seen across the world – as well as many other European football clubs.
At a time when the spotlight is on the difficult relationship between football and the game, Premier League clubs like Aston Villa, Burnley, Everton and Southampton have signed deals with equally obscure Asian betting companies.
These companies are often represented by untraceable individuals, which in some cases puts users at risk of cybersecurity when using their products.