Increasing concerns over problem gambling in the UK could see Prime Minister Boris Johnson announce a ban on betting firm sponsors appearing on football shirts in the coming months.
As the Government carries out a full review into the gambling industry, it is becoming ‘increasingly likely’ Mr Johnson will announce such a ban by the autumn, The Telegraph reported.
The deadline to submit evidence for the review is in March and, while any decision will be informed by this, campaigners, including Carolyn Harris, Labour MP for Swansea East and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm (APPG), are increasingly confident that the Government will enact reform once the findings are revealed.
“For me, it’s about common sense prevailing over greed, because these football clubs have alternative ways to be funded,” Ms Harris said.
While it is looking likely that the review might result in the end of betting firm sponsors being emblazoned across shirts, Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, hopes the Government will go even further.
“Ending betting sponsors on football shirts is looking increasingly likely given evidence of the impact of gambling ads on children,” he said. “We hope the Government goes much further and ends all gambling advertising, promotion and sponsorship.”
The unhealthy relationship between gambling and sport has become a major issue in recent months, with many fans expressing concern.
Half of the Premier League teams and 16 out of 24 in the Championship had betting partners last season. However, a recent poll indicates that many fans are growing tired and becoming disillusioned with the betting industry monopolising shirt sponsorship deals.
A poll by Survation revealed that one third of fans surveyed said they would be put off buying their team’s shirt if it included sponsorship from a gambling firm. In response to the poll, Mr Zarb-Cousin said: “The Government would have the backing of football fans if it decided to move against gambling ads and clubs would benefit from an increase in shirt sales.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is heading up the review into the gambling industry and Mr Johnson is expected to play a key role.
Picture: West Ham are one of eight Premier League teams sponsored by betting firms.