UK government likely to ban gambling advertising on football shirts

Posted on January 28, 2021

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to support a ban on gambling industry shirt sponsorships across football. This is according to a recent report made by The Daily Telegraph.

The report

According to the report, the ban could come into effect in the autumn of 2021. Johnson and his cabinet are determined to make changes in the UK that are not directly linked to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. He is willing to move forward with major reforms to the UK gambling industry, with a focus on the sector’s relationship with football.

This will have a big impact on the industry. It will not only affect the sports betting industry, but it will also impact the football clubs themselves. The government has estimated that clubs in the top two divisions, the Premier League and the Championship League, would take a combined revenue decrease of £110 million per year.

The EFL

The English Football League (EFL) warned the UK government in the Autumn of 2020 that the lower league football clubs were on a “financial knife-edge dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic”. They still support the improvements in betting companies’ relationships with football, but they are opposed to a blanket ban on betting sponsorships on football kits. This has already gone through in many European countries. They instead advocated for an increase in social responsibility.

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Public opinion

The deadline for submitting evidence for this review is not until March but it seems like public opinion, and the opinion of the current government is to take major steps towards betting reform once the findings of the review have been published.

Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Harms, told The Daily Telegraph that she was confident that a ban on shirt sponsorships would be a “common sense outcome” of the parliamentary review. Outside of the government, support for the ban is also popular. The director of Clean Up Gambling, Matt Zarb-Cousin, told the Guardian in October of 2020 that,

“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 future of sponsorships

In late summer or autumn of 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) will publish the findings of their review. The white paper will include recommendations for the UK gambling sector. This could include the sponsorship ban or a sports rights levy. This would be a payment made by betting operators to governing bodies in order to curb the current concerns about funding.

In general, this is a good move by the UK government. They will not be the first country to ban gambling advertisements on football shirts, with both Italy and Spain not permitting shirt sponsorship by gambling companies. This could have a knock-on effect for industries that do not have the financial reserves to handle big changes in their financial situations. If this ban expands beyond football, smaller industries like esports, who rely on sponsorships from esports betting organisations to survive, may not have enough money to continue operations.

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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a background in esports and VR reporting. He grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland, and graduated from Ulster University with a Masters's degree in Journalism.

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