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Roker Roundtable: Should gambling companies be prohibited from appearing on club shirts?

The use of jerseys as a platform for gambling and betting companies is a much-discussed issue. We asked our panel for their views on whether it should be allowed...

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

I do agree that having sponsorships from major gambling service providers isn’t ideal, and I do think it should be phased out.

When I was a kid (a very long time ago, admittedly) sports such as Formula One were sponsored by the likes of Rothmans and John Player- famous cigarette brands of the time. The theory that led to their demise as sponsorship suitors is the same as the reasons the likes of Betdaq and Tombola should not have been on Sunderland shirts in the recent past, in my view.

We cannot be putting the names of questionable companies in places that can influence young and easily-led kids.

In addition, those who have issues with gambling certainly don’t need reminding of the availability of it online 24/7 by seeing famous names from the industry plastered across the first team shirts of many teams featured on ‘Match of the Day’, ‘EFL on Quest’, or even live at games.

My only challenge to this position is: where do you stop?

I would use the same argument to suggest fast food providers (and the related convenient delivery companies) aren’t a great idea, due to obesity impacting the NHS, and the same goes for alcohol brands and confectionery companies.

One of the first brands I recall seeing in a shirt was the Crown Paints logo on the Liverpool shirt from the early to mid-1980s, and I can’t see an issue with brands like that, but I’m sure someone can.

Maybe this is yet another thing that the league needs to revisit and put some new rules around, but they can’t even get the footballing basics right in places, so I’m not holding my breath.

Sunderland v Bradford City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Ant Waterson says...

As a recovering gambling addict, I have a strong feeling about this: gambling companies should not be allowed anywhere near football memorabilia.

Quite a few years ago, the Football Association made the decision to ban tobacco companies from advertising, but believe me, gambling is a far worse problem.

Gamblers don’t get vapes, gum or patches to help them quit. It is solely reliant on willpower not to walk into a shop and place a bet.

The industry is absolutely rife in football, and I can’t watch a game on TV without several adverts popping up during half time. Does that set an urge off? You bet it does. It’s an addiction that I have to live with every day. I’ve seen what this addiction has done to people and done to me, and I’d rather not be reminded of it when I go to a football match or watch it on TV.

I have absolutely no issues with people wanting to place a bet on football or any sport. It is fun when in control, but it is easy to lose that control and lose a lot of money.

No company that sponsors a potentially harmful product should sponsor football. I totally get Malc’s point about fast food companies, and I really do think that the leagues and the FA need to look at the whole thing, and make decisions on exactly what they want to promote and via which brands.

For me, though, gambling companies should be nowhere near.

Fleetwood Town v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus

Sean Brown says...

In many ways, I stand as Ant stands.

I turned to gambling a long time ago as a coping mechanism, and like most coping mechanisms, it starts out as ‘a bit of fun/a laugh/nee bother really’, but in hindsight, that’s just an excuse.

I’ve sought no professional guidance on the matter, but I eventually acknowledged that I had a problem when I emptied a bank account while attempting to chase my losses- something that happens all too often with people like me.

I’m not intending to be preachy about it, either. If you have enough disposable income to do it and you have actual control over it, you can do what you please, and don’t let my personal issues stand in your way.

We even flirted with it ourselves with an association with BETDAQ that, on reflection, disgusted all of us. I still feel dirty thinking about it, and no great profit was made from that association (which again is no excuse), but you live and learn - particularly as you watch the lives of your friends and loved ones fall apart around you.

However, there’s a difference between accepting that something can genuinely be a fun pastime and ignoring the incredible damage that it has done to many in society who haven’t been fortunate enough to pull themselves away from what can be an incredibly slippery slope.

Gambling disproportionately impacts poorer communities, and why wouldn’t it?

While it may offer nothing but the occasional flutter for many, it may offer both an escape from reality and the promise of no more worries about the dire financial situation you may be in, simply by pressing a button.

The entire industry- including all the games it runs and all the advertising it runs, is very intentionally marketed towards those with a weakness, and that weakness is a lack of wealth. A lack, despite your best attempts, of being able to stop worrying about a lot of life’s stresses.

Its presence at all football matches and sporting events, its meagre attempts at promoting itself as an ally of gambling addicts, and its relentlessly careless exposure to children...well, it’s like the BBC producers’ old approach to Jimmy Savile: you know there’s something very disturbing about it all, but everyone else is ignoring it, so what’s the use in saying anything? Just let Jim fix it for everyone and deal with the aftermath later.

In short, like Jimmy, it’s not something that anyone under the age of 18 should be exposed to.

For that reason, and a great many others that I won’t go into, it shouldn’t be present on the shirts of our greatest sporting institutions, and those in charge of such matters would do well to consider the long-term impact on their respective fans and families, and find something else to fund them in the short-term that isn’t just money soaked in the blood of the many dead the industry has left in its wake.

William Hill Bookmakers Waterloo Road Shop Opening Photo by Daniel Hambury/PA Images via Getty Images

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