Forest Green Rovers FC support sponsorship ban
Forest Green Rovers FC have become the first English professional football club to call for a ban on gambling sponsorships in the sport as they partner with the Gambling with Lives charity.
The League Two side team have never before taken on a betting sponsorship, and will participate in the charity’s national ‘Big Step’ initiative, which campaigns for the end of betting sponsorship in the football industry. This would relate to sponsorship, promotion, and advertising of betting and gaming altogether.
The Chairman of Forest Green Rovers, Dale Vince OBE, has said that “It’s like gambling has taken over football. If you watch a game on TV you are inundated with ads – gambling logos are on almost half of Premier League shirts, and constantly flash up on pitch side boards. For me, the fun already stopped. This is an abuse of football and of football fans.”
This is despite a study commissioned by the campaign group Clean Up Gambling which shows that a third of football fans would be averse to buying their favourite team’s kit when it sports gambling sponsorship. The study also showed widespread support amongst the sport’s fans to cut ties with gambling sponsorship altogether.
Fellow League Two club Tranmere Rovers Chairman, Mark Palios, also expressed his support for a gambling advertising ban in the past, stating that the links with the betting industry had gone ‘too far.’
The Gambling with Lives charity was initially established to support those bereaved by gambling-related harm, and delivers education and awareness programmes surrounding the issues related to problem gambling.
James Grimes, the founder of Big Step said “As a recovering gambling addict and massive football fan, I’m passionate about ensuring the game is part of the solution to gambling harms. Our outdated gambling laws need to change, especially with the exponential rise of online gambling.”
He added that sponsorship by tobacco companies has been banned, and the same should be true of gambling. Gambling sponsorship should not be visible on shirts, around stadiums, or in any other capacity during matches to be a truly effective ban.
Forest Green Rovers FC support of the ban comes as the review of the Gambling Act of 2005 comes to a head, and sports betting sponsorships fall under the increased scrutiny and public dismay.
While Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet has purportedly supported the idea of a ban on gambling sponsorships, not everyone is on the same page. Chairman of the English Football League (EFL) has argued that in the “wake of the pandemic it would be catastrophic” to the industry to lose such a large portion of its revenue, and the ban would disproportionately affect small football clubs.