Abstract Tobacco, alcohol and foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar generate much of the global burden of noncommunicable diseases. We therefore need a better understanding of how these products are promoted. The promotion of tobacco products through sporting events has largely disappeared over the last two decades, but advertising and sponsorship continues by companies selling alcohol, unhealthy food and sugar-sweetened beverage. The sponsorship of sporting events such as the Olympic Games, the men’s FIFA World Cup and the men’s European Football Championships in 2016, has received some attention in recent years in the public health literature. Meanwhile, British football and the English Premier League have become global events with which transnational companies are keen to be associated, to promote their brands to international markets. Despite its reach, the English Premier League marketing and sponsorship portfolio has received very little scrutiny from public health advocates. We call for policy-makers and the public health community to formulate an approach to the sponsorship of sporting events, one that accounts for public health concerns.