- sportsmail It understands that the white paper to be published this winter is set to illegally include shirt logos from gambling companies
- Nine Premier League clubs have gambling companies as a front-of-shirt sponsor.
- Banning betting advertising on pitchside billboards and TV commercials is also being considered but is currently less likely
- All except one of the Premier League clubs partner with betting firms in some way or the other.
The government is set to ban betting firms from sponsoring football shirts after a review of gambling laws.
sportsmail understands that outlawing the front shirt logos of gambling companies is almost certain to be one of the proposals included in the white paper to be published this winter.
A wider ban on advertising betting in sports – including billboards and TV commercials on the side of the pitch – is under consideration, but is less likely at this stage.
The government is set to ban betting firms from sponsoring football shirts (Picture: West Ham sponsored by Betway Left, Wolves sponsored by ManbetX Right)
Newcastle (Fun88, left) and Southampton (Sportsbet.io, right) are two more Premier League clubs with front shirt gambling sponsors.
This season, nine of the 20 Premier League clubs have gambling companies in front of them as shirt sponsors, as well as the other six teams in the Championship. Those deals are estimated to be worth a combined £100 million a year.
A recent study also found that all except one of the Premier League clubs partner with betting firms in some way or another, as do 15 Championship sides. Such deals may be allowed to continue, with lawmakers wishing to protect the finances of less affluent clubs.
A source close to the review said: ‘We’re pretty sure there’s going to be an end to front-shirt advertising. Everyone is expecting it. Reformers want more but many politicians are concerned about the lower leagues.
‘The government thinks that the front shirt will grab the headlines and it will feel that it has made a bold statement.’
A review of the 2005 Gambling Act was initiated by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in December 2020 and the call for evidence was closed in March.
The government’s white paper – a policy document setting out proposals for future legislation – is due later this year or early 2022.
The newly-promoted Watford is sponsored by Stake.com on the front of their first team shirt
There will be a three-month consultation period before the bill goes to parliament, meaning any changes affecting sports teams are unlikely to come into force until 2023 at the earliest.
A DCMS spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to combating all forms of gambling and will build on our strong track record of introducing measures to protect those at risk.’
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling-Related Damages (GRH APPG) published a report last year recommending a ban on advertising in sports betting.
Why is this change happening now?
The Gambling Act was introduced in 2005, but technological advances have led to an explosion of betting companies sponsoring sports, raising concerns about gambling-related losses.
The government’s 2019 manifesto promised to change the rules to be ‘fit for the digital age’. A comprehensive review of gambling laws was finally launched in December 2020.
After a call for evidence earlier this year, ministers are now preparing a white paper of proposals – including a ban on gambling firms from being front-of-shirt sponsors.
Will other types of gambling ads be banned?
While ministers agree about removing the gambling logo from shirts, talks are on about how far the new rules should be extended.
Both sides are arguing vigorously. Reformers say banning the sponsorship of the shirt would be pointless if the ads still appear on hoardings in stadiums and on TV. Sports governing bodies and clubs, however, are desperate not to lose a valuable source of income.
What will happen to clubs that are already locked in sponsorship deals?
A ban on front-of-shirts is unlikely until at least the 2023-24 season as any bill is still months away from going to parliament. Nevertheless, clubs are preparing to change the rules by agreeing to short-term sponsorship deals or writing in the break clause.
Teams in the championship are moving away from sponsors betting on kits. This summer there was a surge in deals with financial trading companies that should avoid the new regulation.
Labor MP Carolyn Harris, the group’s chair, told sportsmail: ‘Banning front-of-shirt ads is certainly the right thing to do, but it just scratches the surface.
‘We are bombarded by gambling ads and this has to stop. Advertisements should be completely banned to protect children and prevent harm.
Former Conservative leader, Vice-Chair Ian Duncan Smith, said: ‘While I would welcome any move to reduce gambling advertising, and removing ads from the front of shirts would be an important first step, there is much more to be done. needed.
‘Advertisements are everywhere – on billboards, in magazines, online and on TV. The only way to prevent children from being exposed to gambling advertisements is to ban them.
Last week, England’s most capped men’s footballer Peter Shilton joined campaigners to hand over a 12,000-strong petition to 10 Downing Street.
The 71-year-old former goalkeeper, who has been addicted to gambling for 45 years, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying: ‘The law needs to be changed’.
The ban on front-of-shirt sponsors for advertising in sport would be the biggest change since the ban on tobacco promotion in the UK in 2003.
in an interview with sportsmail Last year, EFL chairman Rick Parry said the timing of reforms ‘couldn’t be worse’ given the financial struggles of clubs in the pandemic. The EFL has its own title sponsor, Sky Bet.
“The last thing we need at the moment is restrictions on other valuable sources of income, because they just can’t be changed overnight,” Parry said.
‘If not betting, then which market should we go to?’
The Premier League responded to the government’s call for evidence earlier this year.
They believe that there is no definite relationship between sponsorship and problem gambling and that no changes should be implemented without identifying how sponsorship revenue will be changed.
James Grimes, who founded the Big Step campaign to tackle football’s ties to gambling, said: ‘A shirt sponsorship ban would be a welcome and significant acknowledgment of the harm caused by gambling advertising in football. But this single measure would be relatively redundant if commercials were still allowed pitchside during match broadcasts and online.’