No more gambling companies sponsoring the front of football shirts after government review of gambling laws

The government will ban gambling companies from sponsoring football shirts after revising gambling laws.

Sports post understands that banning logos on the front of gambling companies’ shirts will almost certainly be one of the proposals included in a white paper to be published this winter.

A broader ban on sports betting advertising – including on-field billboards and TV commercials – is being considered, but less likely at this stage.

Sportsmail understands that banning betting companies' shirt front logos is almost certainly one of the proposals included in a white paper (Photo: Wolves sponsored by ManBetX)

Government to ban gambling companies from sponsoring football shirts (Photo: West Ham sponsored by betway left, Wolves sponsored by ManBetX right)

Newcastle (Fun88) is another Premier League club with a betting sponsor on the front of the shirt

Southampton (Sportsbet.io) is also one of the top nine clubs to have sponsors for front-of-shirt betting this season

Newcastle (Fun88, left) and Southampton (Sportsbet.io, right) are two more Premier League clubs with betting sponsors up front

This season, nine of the 20 Premier League clubs have betting companies as their title sponsors, as well as a further six teams in the championship. Those deals are estimated to be worth a total of £100 million a year.

A recent study also found that all but one of the Premier League clubs partner with betting companies in some way, as do 15 Championship clubs. Such deals could continue with MPs seeking to protect the finances of less affluent clubs.

A source close to the review said: ‘We’re pretty sure there’s an end to front-shirt advertising. Everyone is waiting for that. Reformers want more, but many politicians are concerned about the lower divisions.

“The government thinks the front of the shirt will make headlines and it feels like it made a bold statement.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a review of the 2005 Gambling Act in December 2020 and the call for evidence was closed in March.

The government’s white paper – a policy paper with proposals for future legislation – is expected to be published by the end of this year or early 2022.

Newly promoted Watford is sponsored by Stake.com on the front of their first team shirts

Newly promoted Watford is sponsored by Stake.com on the front of their first team shirts

There will then be a three-month consultation period before the bill goes to parliament, meaning any changes affecting sports teams will not come into effect until 2023 at the earliest.

A DCMS spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to tackling gambling addiction in all its forms and will build on our strong track record of introducing measures to protect those at risk.’

Chris Philp was appointed as the new gambling minister on Wednesday and is believed to be enthusiastic about reforms, as is new culture minister Nadine Dorries.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Damages (GRH APPG) published a report last year recommending a ban on the advertising of sports betting.

Question and answer

Why is this change happening now?

The Gambling Act was passed in 2005, but technological advances have led to an explosion of gambling companies sponsoring sports, raising concerns about gambling-related harm.

The government’s 2019 manifesto promised to review the regulations to “fit for the digital age.” In December 2020, a broad overhaul of the gambling laws was finally launched.

Following a call for evidence earlier this year, ministers are now preparing a white paper of proposals, including a ban on gambling companies as front-of-shirt sponsors.

Will other forms of gambling advertising be banned?

While ministers appear to agree on removing gambling logos from shirts, talks are underway about how far the new regulations should go.

Both sides are lobbying hard. Reformers say a ban on shirt sponsorship would be pointless if ads continued to appear on stadium billboards and on TV. However, sports boards and clubs are desperate not to lose a valuable source of income.

What happens to clubs that are already locked into sponsorship deals?

A front-shirt ban is unlikely until at least the 2023-24 season, as a bill is still months away from going to parliament. Still, clubs have been preparing for a rule change by entering into short-term sponsorship deals or entering clauses.

In the championship, teams are going away from betting on sponsors on uniforms. This summer saw an increase in deals with financial trading companies, which should avoid new regulations.

Labor MP Carolyn Harris, the group leader, said: Sports post“Banning ads on the front of a shirt is obviously the right thing to do, but it’s just superficial.

“We are being bombarded with gambling ads and that has to stop. Ads should be banned completely to protect children and prevent harm.”

Vice-Chairman Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, added: “While I would welcome any step to reduce gambling advertising, and removing advertisements from the front of shirts would be an important first step, much more needs to be done.” done.

“Ads are everywhere – on billboards, in magazines, online and on TV. The only way to prevent children from being exposed to gambling ads is to ban them.”

Last week, England’s male footballer Peter Shilton joined campaigners to file a 12,000-strong petition at 10 Downing Street.

The 71-year-old former goalkeeper, who had been a gambling addict for 45 years, sent Prime Minister Boris Johnson a letter saying: ‘The law must change’.

A ban on sponsors on the front of the shirt would be the biggest change in advertising in the sport since tobacco promotion was banned in the UK in 2003.

In an interview with Sports post last year, EFL president Rick Parry said the timing of the reforms “couldn’t get any worse” given the financial difficulties faced by clubs during the pandemic. The EFL’s own title sponsor is Sky Bet.

“The last thing we need right now is restrictions on other valuable sources of income because they can’t be swapped over overnight,” says Parry.

“If we don’t gamble, 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 definitive link between sponsorship and gambling problems and no change should be made without first identifying how the sponsorship revenue will be replaced.

James Grimes, who founded the Big Step campaign to tackle the relationship between football and gambling, said: ‘A ban on shirt sponsorship would be a welcome and significant acceptance of the damage caused by betting advertising in football. But this one measure would be relatively redundant if ads were still allowed on the pitch, during match broadcasts and online.”

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