Former English Football Association Chief Calls for Ban on Gambling Advertising
by Glenn Baird - February 18, 2020
Ex FA chief, Mark Palios has called for football in England to “wean” itself off of gambling sponsorships during an interview on BBC Radio 4.
Palios, the current Tranmere Rovers chairman, has said that he would not accept any sort of sponsorship deal with companies connected to the gambling industry, to the extent that they claim to have rejected an offer from a major gambling firm last year.
Despite this, the league that Tranmere play in is sponsored by Sky Bet, with both the league and the gambling firm stating that they work together to promote responsible gambling.
A spokesperson for League One had this to say: “The EFL itself continues to have a successful relationship with Sky Bet who, as a responsible, properly regulated bookmaker, recognise the importance of having the right safeguards in place.”
Palios claims that the offer that his club rejected would have included the installation of betting terminals inside the grounds.
“This is a family club that’s firmly rooted in the community and from our perspective it’s the wrong thing to do to get associated with the gambling industry,” he said.
“We can’t change the bigger picture in terms of the football industry being involved to the extent it is but from a personal perspective that’s what we do.
“Football has to wean itself off the position it is in at the moment – and that’s the best verb I can use.
“It’s certainly gone too far.”
He went on to discuss an issue he had with an employee who stole from the club to feed their gambling addiction:
“I see gambling as something that is pernicious. People get hooked into it and it is a hidden addiction,” he said.
“You see people stealing from their employers as we’ve seen and it destroys relationships and fundamentally damages family units and family units are a massive part of the community.”
The debate around gambling advertising in football continues to rage as more and clubs sign deals with gambling firms in the UK. However, as the current Premier League stands there are only 2 teams in the top 10 with a kit sponsorship deal connected to a gambling firm and one of those will be terminated at the end of this season. This juxtaposes with the bottom half of the league where 8 out of 10 clubs have casinos or sportsbooks on the front of their kit, suggesting that gambling sponsorship is more prevalent with the less established Premier League clubs.
The argument could be made that the bigger footballing brands can court bigger, less controversial sponsors than those who may be reliant on the best offers available.