EFL criticises proposed ban on gambling sponsorships

The English Football League (EFL) has once again criticised the proposed blanket ban on commercial partnerships with the gambling industry and called for an evidence-based approach to gambling sponsorship.

The English Football League (EFL), which oversees second, third and fourth-tier football in England, has once again criticised the proposed blanket ban on commercial partnerships with the gambling industry and called for an evidence-based approach when it comes to gambling sponsors.

EFL hits out at proposed sponsorship ban

Several groups are actively campaigning for a ban on gambling sponsorship in English football including the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm and the House of Lords Select Committee.

The EFL has previously criticised the proposed ban on gambling sponsorships, arguing that a ban would cut off a major source of income and funding for its member clubs. 

In addition to this, the league explained that the funding that comes from betting and online gambling sponsors are of significant importance to EFL clubs, especially due to the financial hardships clubs have faced during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, the EFL said: “With over £40 million a season paid by the sector to the League and its Clubs, the significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been, particularly given the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which is leaving many of our Clubs living on a financial knife edge. 

“At the same time our Members, who contribute almost £500m annually to the Exchequer, has its core income stream of ticket sales turned off indefinitely without any indication of a roadmap that will allow the safe return of supporters to stadiums, despite other sectors being able to welcome people through their doors. They are also continuing to meet their financial obligations in the absence of similar levels of support being afforded to other industries.”

The league added that instead of imposing a blanket ban on gambling sponsors it would be much more beneficial to take a “collaborative and evidence-based approach.”

The EFL also cited its work with Sky Bet to help promote responsible gambling, such as having all players in its divisions wear sleeve badges with responsible gambling messaging. The league also highlighted that Sky Bet uses 70% of its matchday inventory to promote safer gambling messaging.

The proposed ban on gambling sponsors in football

The proposed blanket ban on commercial partnerships between football clubs and the gambling industry was first floated by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm (APPG) in a report published earlier this year, which proposed several gambling reforms.

Shortly after the APPG’s report was made public, the House of Lords Select Committee also published a report calling a complete regulatory overhaul of the UK gambling sector. Among the 66 recommendations in the report, the Lords Committee called for a ban on gambling sports sponsorship.

The Lords’ report concluded that gambling operators should no longer be allowed to promote their brands on the shirts of sports teams, and for no gambling advertising in or near a sports venue.

However, instead of implementing this immediately, it suggested the restrictions should not come into effect for clubs below the Premier League before 2023. The report also said that exceptions should also be made for horse and greyhound racing.

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