Labour Party Would Ban Betting Sponsorship on Soccer ShirtsSeptember 7, 2017 12:38 pm
According to a recent report, betting and sports companies operating in Britain accounted for a third of all gift and hospitality donations made to the country’s members of parliament (MPs) in 2016. Needless to say, the statistic has raised a few eyebrows amongst concerned groups, with opposition deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, stating that he would prohibit gambling firms advertising their products on soccer player shirts if his party was elected to government.
In this season’s English Premier League there are currently 9 out of 20 teams sporting gambling company logos, representing £62 million in funding for the soccer teams. This is contributing to a rise in “problem gambling” in the UK, according to Watson, who explains:
“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.”
Once upon a time, tobacco companies were allowed to sponsor sporting events in the UK before recognition was made of the harm smoking can cause, resulting in the practice being pulled. Watson says the same approach should now be applied to gambling sponsorship, with the need more pressing than ever considering a number of betting scandals that have been reported of late involving players. Last April, for instance, Burnley midfielder Joey Barton was handed a protracted ban by the Football Association for 35 breaches of the FA rule related to betting on matches.
In return, Barton accused the FA of double-dealing over its sponsorship relationship with Ladbrokes, leading to the association eventually ending its £4 million-a-year deal with Ladbrokes following just a single season. As the FA announced at the time:
“At the May FA board meeting, it was agreed that the FA would end all sponsorships with betting companies starting from the end of the 2016-17 season. The decision was made following a three-month review of the FA’s approach to it as a governing body taking betting sponsorship, whilst being responsible for the regulation of sports betting within the sport’s rules.”