Labour calls for ban on gambling firms sponsoring football shirts

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Gambling firms should be banned from football shirt sponsorship deals, Labour has said.

With 25 of the 92 league clubs, including nine out of 20 Premier League sides, currently engaged in such sponsoring, shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) secretary Tom Watson said it was time to take action.

Expressing concern at a rise in problem gambling, Mr Watson insisted it was wrong for young fans to be exposed to the logos of betting firms on football shirts.

Tom Watson insisted it was wrong for young fans to be exposed to the logos of betting firms on football shirts
Tom Watson insisted it was wrong for young fans to be exposed to the logos of betting firms on football shirts (Chris Radburn/PA)

Mr Watson said clubs should take the lead from the Football Association as it ended its commercial agreement with Ladbrokes in June after deciding it was not appropriate for it to partner with a gambling company.

Labour said the FA already prohibits under-18 teams from displaying the logos of gambling firms as that would be classed as wearing clothing which would be deemed as "detrimental to the welfare, health or general interest of young persons".

Children are being targeted with a record number of gambling ads with the industry spending £1.4 billion promoting betting since 2012, Mr Watson said.

He cited a report by the Gambling Commission in August which estimated that around 430,000 people in the UK are problem gamblers, with over two million people either suffering from a serious gambling habit or being at risk of addiction.

Burnley are one of nine Premier League clubs to be sponsored by a betting firm
Burnley are one of nine Premier League clubs to be sponsored by a betting firm (Adam Davy/PA)

Mr Watson said: "Football has to play its part in tackling Britain's hidden epidemic of gambling addiction. 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.

"Clubs have a corporate social responsibility to their fans not to promote harmful products - as the Football Association recognised this summer when it terminated its sponsorship deal with a betting company.

"With new evidence showing gambling addiction rising, at a huge cost to individuals and their families, to society and to the taxpayer, the clubs should follow the FA's lead.

"Just as tobacco companies were banned from sponsoring sporting events and putting their logos on branded goods because of the harm smoking can cause, it's right that we recognise the harm problem gambling does and take gambling logos off football shirts."