The Labour Party's deputy leader in the UK Tom Watson, has proposed a crackdown on the 'hidden epidemic of gambling addiction' in football, should his party come into power after the next British general election. As part of the plan, Watson proposes a ban on football club's having shirt sponsorship deals with betting companies.
Nine Premier League teams currently have gambling companies as their shirt sponsor.
At the moment, the FA's stance on the subject doesn't extend to senior teams, but gambling companies are not allowed to sponsor youth football under their rules. This is because it is deemed to be 'detrimental to the welfare, health or general interests of young persons'.
Labour are arguing that since the Premier League is viewed by millions of children globally, this standard should also apply there.
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.
The FA also announced in July that they had cut ties with their own gambling sponsors, which included a contract with Ladbrokes that brought in about £4 million a year. Watson spoke about the example this move should set:
With new evidence showing gambling addiction rising, at huge cost to individuals and their families, to society and to the taxpayer, the clubs should follow the FA’s lead.
The link between English football and gambling has recently been studied by researchers at Goldsmith University in London. Their findings demonstrated that even if one does not gamble a cent, they are exposed to a large amount of gambling branding.
Their study of three episodes of Match of the Day concluded that branding was visible on screen for between 71% and 89% of its running time. The list of Premier League clubs who have gambling companies as their shirt sponsor are as follows:
- Burnley - Dafabet
- Bournemouth - Mansion88
- Crystal Palace - ManBetX
- Everton - SportPesa
- Newcastle - Fun88
- Stoke City - Bet365
- Swansea - Letou
- West Brom - TLCBet
- West Ham - Betway
In the Championship, the situation is even worse with 13 of the 24 clubs sponsored by a betting company.
In Ireland, just three League of Ireland clubs have betting companies as their primary shirt company.