Football clubs call for ban on gambling sponsors

Nine out of the 20 Premier League clubs are sponsored by betting companies. Credit: PA

Twenty football clubs have signed a letter calling for a ban on gambling companies sponsoring teams.

The signatories include Championship club Luton Town, in addition to Bolton Wanderers, Forest Green and Tranmere Rovers.

"As owners, directors, and executives responsible for our clubs, we have witnessed the harmful growth of gambling sponsorship and advertising in football, including the negative impact on our fans," the letter states.

"A ban on gambling logos on shirts would be a significant acceptance of the harm caused, but we would encourage you to include all gambling advertising in stadiums and competition sponsorship so every young fan can go to any football match – home and away – free of inducements to gamble.

“It seems clear to us that our fans, the players and the public, support our stance, with the only barrier seemingly being the financial impact on clubs.”

West Ham is sponsored by Betway. Credit: PA

The letter continues: “This is why we are writing to you today - we want to challenge the notion that football is dependent on gambling advertising revenues.

“As clubs without these partnerships, we can say categorically that we evidently do not need them. We have managed to source other forms of sponsorship and have attracted partnerships because of our socially responsible stance on this issue.”

There are a number of proposals lined up for the gambling industry, including rules on sponsorship deal, which are expected to be announced in the coming weeks by the government.

Many clubs rely on sponsorship deals to keep money coming into their club. Nine of the 20 Premier League clubs are sponsored by gambling companies.

Those who have signed the letter believe football can survive without the investment of bookmakers and online casinos. A House of Lords cross-party group, Peers for Gambling Reform, concluded last year a ban on gambling logos on club merchandise would cost Football League clubs around 2.5% in lost revenue overall.

The list of 20 clubs who have signed the letter:

Luton TownGlasgow CityBolton WanderersTranmere RoversForest Green RoversDrogheda UnitedChippenham TownDulwich HamletBillericay TownLewesClapton CommunitySeaford Newhaven Headingley AFCGretnaBonnyrigg Rose AthleticWyndham AthleticIpswich WanderersEstudiantesDarlington Railway Athletic

A spokesperson for Betting and Gaming Council, said: “During the pandemic, the regulated betting and gaming industry provided some of the country’s most popular sport with vital funding. According to a report by EY commissioned by the BGC, the English Football League received £40m, horseracing received £350m, and snooker, darts and rugby league received more than £12.5m.

“The Government has previously stated research did not establish a causal link between exposure to advertising and the development of problem gambling.

“Betting advertising and sponsorship must comply with strict guidelines and safer gambling messaging is regularly and prominently displayed. It should also be noted that betting operators’ logos cannot be used on children’s clothing – including replica football kits – while the whistle to whistle ban has reduced the number of TV betting commercials viewed by children during live sports before the watershed by 97 per cent.

“We are encouraged by the latest figures from the Gambling Commission that showed the rate of problem gambling was 0.3 per cent – down from 0.6 per cent 18 months ago, that’s equivalent to a drop of 340,000 problem gamblers down to 170,000. However, we strongly support the Gambling Review as a further opportunity to raise standards and promote safer gambling.”