By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
According to media reports, logos of gambling companies may be banned from sports shirts, thus triggering a cash crisis in sport the likes of which have not been seen since sponsorship of sports by tobacco companies was banned a number of years ago.
This ban would affect most sports, but especially football. Gambling companies contribute around £110 million a year to English Premier League (EPL) and Championship Clubs.
For example, West Ham FC receives £10 million each season from BETWAY, the online bookmakers.
Also, sixteen out of the twenty-four Championship Clubs had betting companies as commercial partners last season.
Football clubs can also earn sponsorship revenue by directing their fans to the websites of so-called preferred betting commercial partners.
Other sports that will suffer from such a ban include snooker, darts, boxing and rugby league.
For example, many leading snooker players, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, have the logos of betting sites emblazoned on their waistcoats.
The UK Government is concerned about betting addiction, which is on the rise, especially amongst children, as a result of the boom in online gambling sites.
According to Matt Zarb-Cousin, the Director of ‘Clean Up Gambling’:
“Children …. are growing up thinking you have to put on a bet to enjoy sport.”
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party and a prominent member of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling harm, has remarked as follows:
“Banning gambling logos on sportswear would be a welcome step….”
“A complete ban on gambling advertising is long overdue….”
A spokesperson for the EPL, however, commented as follows:
“This comes at the worst possible time for football clubs and sports clubs generally, who are struggling with their revenue base during the pandemic. Most clubs agree with the general principle, but the timing is wrong.”
According to the UK Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport, proposals for the new legislation are expected by December of this year.