It is a way of life when it comes to football now. The average football fan over 18 will tend to be betting on matches across the English leagues and even over Europe. However, the growing number of clubs being sponsored by gambling firms is something that is being disputed, to the point that the Labour party have recently announced they would abolish football teams from having gambling firms as their shirt sponsors all together should they get into power.
Controversy occurred this year when it was announced that footballer, Joey Barton, had broken the FA betting regulations over 1000 times to which he is now serving an 18-month ban for and this is something that the Labour party thinks football clubs are apart of. Almost half of the Premier League clubs have a gambling firm as their shirt sponsor and Labour’s shadow culture secretary Mr Watson believes this has negative connotations when he said this week: “Shirt sponsorship sends out a message that football clubs don’t take problem gambling among their own fans seriously enough,”
“It puts gambling brands in front of fans of all ages, not just at matches but on broadcasts and highlights packages on both commercial television and the BBC.”
A government review is currently underway on the impact of gambling advertisement on children and vulnerable people. This is due to the massive exposure that football is reportedly giving betting machines. 15 football league clubs also have betting companies as their shirt sponsor and it does not stop there. As well as having 32Red as their shirt sponsor, Championship side Leeds also have a partnership with Ladbrokes in which they post ‘betting previews’ to their official website on match-days. On the Leeds official website on match-day against Nottingham Forest they posted things such as ‘Nailed on’ and ‘Smart money…’ and it is things like this which I can see a massive issue with. Gambling shirt sponsors are likely to never go away unless Labour were to get into power. It remains to be seen how much these deals are actually worth to the football clubs but the gambling in football figures are said to be in the billions. The trouble is with what Leeds and most other football clubs who are partnered with betting companies is that although there may be age restrictions on betting, there are no age restrictions on social media and of course football club’s official websites so anyone can see these ‘betting previews’ including children and vulnerable people and it is sending out the wrong message.
Lets be honest, gambling is fun, too much gambling is dangerous and I do not believe that football clubs can continue this way. Again on one of these betting previews that football clubs are posting on their websites it says things such as ‘Long odds, large returns’ which encourages fans that not only can they win these large returns but that also it is easy and on several of these betting previews not at any point does it give a message such as ‘when the fun stops, stop’. Part of these shirt sponsorship deals often will include that the clubs have to do these betting previews on their websites and social media. I have never seen a problem with shirt sponsorship’s with gambling firms but it is only when you look at the detail that you realise there could be a problem there.
I do not think it needs to go as far as banning gambling shirt sponsors as I reiterate that gambling is not a bad thing. Promoting it to children and whoever else however, is a bad thing and there needs to be a line where it can become controlled and actually gets the right message across.