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The Controversy Surrounding Football Gambling Sponsorships Explained

Football gambling sponsorships have come under scrutiny from safer gambling campaigners. We look at why people are against football gambling sponsorships

The last few months has seen football gambling sponsorships come under intense scrutiny from safer gambling campaigners as the UK Government carries out its review of the Gambling Act 2005. But why are people so against football gambling shirt sponsorships now?

Football Gambling Sponsorships

Sponsorships of football clubs and competitions have reportedly been around since the 1970s, and most major football clubs are now sponsored by some type of company. The most common types of sponsorships in football include sponsorships of entire events or tournaments, front of shirt sponsorships where company logos are displayed on the front of shirts, and football also features kit manufacturing deals, where big-name sports companies like Adidas or Nike agree to manufacture kits for specific football clubs.

When football clubs are sponsored by companies, the agreements can include advertising on kits, in stadiums, on the club’s website and social media channels, and in programmes too. However, it’s important to note that The Football Association, which oversees all aspects of football, has strict rules on what can be displayed and how sponsorships are displayed to “protect the integrity” of the sport and competitions.

Why People Are Concerned

Right now, a majority of UK football clubs have gambling sponsorships and display their logo on shirts, stadiums, programmes, and on the internet. While fans have mixed opinions on the number of gambling sponsorships in football, gambling addiction campaigners and experts have expressed concern over them.

According to campaigners, gambling sponsorships in football help normalise gambling and can lead to problem gambling, with clubs promoting the activity as safe to take part in. What’s more, campaigners have warned that gambling sponsorships also expose minors and those who are vulnerable to the activity and can encourage them to gamble, although the UK Gambling Commission has been working against this by introducing new rules preventing gambling companies from advertising to minors and vulnerable people.

How Gambling Supports The Football Industry

While the concerns raised by campaigners are incredibly important, it’s also good to understand how gambling sponsorships support the football industry. Gambling companies pay sponsored clubs millions of pounds to display the logo of their signature brand and related online products – often referred to as sister sites – providing the club with much-needed funding to keep them in the sport. The money provided with these sponsorships is usually spent on improving training facilities, supporting players, providing towards the club’s local community, and improving the club’s stadium and other facilities too.

In fact, a BBC report from July 2020 revealed that the gambling sector contributes around £40 million a season to the English Football League and its clubs, highlighting just how important these gambling sponsorships are to the football industry, its players, clubs’ local communities, and those who work within the industry too.

Should Gambling Shirt Sponsorships End?

Gambling football sponsorships are a divisive topic. The football industry has argued that it needs these sponsorships to get by, while campaigners and experts repeatedly warn of its dangers and continuously call for a ban on football sponsorships. These agreements will reportedly be featured in the UK Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005, but it’s unknown what the Government will rule and whether any changes will come out of it. Until then, gambling football sponsorships will continue, along with all the campaigning against them.

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