The Premier League will reportedly resist any move to ban or limit betting company shirt sponsorship, even as the industry itself offers to consider a voluntary ban shirt and pitchside advertising in a bid to ward off a total ban.
10 teams in the Premier League wear the name of a bookmakers on their shirt while all clubs, including Arsenal, have betting partners. Betting is a huge part of football but it is also a huge part of society where it is also a problem.
So, too, is alcohol, but football doesn’t seem to be so worried about that despite the problems it causes. Oxford United in their FA Cup replay against Newcastle United, to pick a recent example of a team playing live on BBC wore ‘Singha’ on their shirts, a Thai beer. It could be argued that alcohol is far more of a problem than gambling, but then I don’t want to start a game of ‘whatabboutism’.
Bookmakers are said to be considering a voluntary shirt and pitch-side ban but the Premier League are believed to be ready to resist any attempts to limit sponsorship while continuing to sell ad space to the highest bidder.
The gambling industry was deregulated in 2005 under Tony Blair’s government and ministers have pledged to take another look at the Gambling Act which allowed betting companies to move into sport.
“We’re not sniffy or judgmental about gambling at all,” said Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters. “Sport and gambling have a long association.
“I think this area does need stronger governance, particularly to protect the vulnerable, but I don’t think the answer coming out at the end of it should be that football clubs shouldn’t have shirt sponsorship from gambling companies any more.”
I can’t help but feel that all the talk around banning betting companies is coming from people who see the money bookies earn of the back of the Premier League not going into their own pockets.
Call me a cynic, but there are plenty of other issues that cause even more damage than betting that football doesn’t give a toss about.
Alcohol abuse, of course, probably being number one on that list.