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Motherwell vs. Hibernian - Ladbrokes Premeirship

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Fan Letters: Gambling in footy special as readers give their views on Sunderland’s new sponsor

In today’s fan letters, readers have written in to share their thoughts on Sunderland’s new partnership with an online betting company.

Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I read the article on the wisdom of gambling firms sponsoring football clubs & I agree with it. It has long been a concern for me not least because gambling raises the spectre of match-fixing & corruption. Put gambling & sport in the same context & it raises temptation.

There are three undesirable results. More ordinary people are drawn into a possible addiction they can’t afford. Where opportunity is visible corruption will follow & suddenly the highest odds will see the most bizarre results. Footballers have surplus funds & time on their hands & a consequence is the numerous examples of footballers whose privileged life has been torn apart by gambling.

It seems to be a potential problem for football in general.

Best Wishes

RM Weston

Dear Roker Report,

Got to say that they would not have been my first choice. In the scheme of things, I don’t suppose that they have invited a journalist to a meeting, strangled him, sawed him into many pieces, stuffed his grisly remains into suitcases and then smuggled them out while his loving fiancee waited for him outside.

Still, Spreadex Sports do not sit quite right with me. Who then would we choose?

Keep up the good work

Richard Purdom

Dear Roker Report,

No, I am not happy with SAFC being linked to gambling. Such sponsorship implies the club supports such a socially destructive habit.

Sadly I have seen the destruction gambling can bring to families not only financially but worse - suicide.

Whilst I am STID I cannot support this.


Bob Langley

Dear Roker Report,

This is totally out of order, the club being associated with a gambling concern.

George Turnbull

Dear Roker Report,

Gambling wrecks too many lives, relationships and families. Young people do not need to have teams they support encouraging betting, it so easily leads to addiction

William Richardson

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thank you all for writing in on this important subject. I’ve read these letters with interest and looked at the comments “below the line” on our articles and on social media over the last couple of days.

I’ve actually been surprised by the level of opposition Sunderland’s partnership with the Spreadex company, I thought it would only be us “lefty snowflakes” at Roker Report who would have an issue with it.

It's clear to me that both the awareness of the negative impact of gambling on individuals, families, communities and society in general is growing and opposition to the ubiquitous gambling advertising that confronts us when we watch games in person and on TV is increasing and is a growing a cause for concern.

Gambling is a legal activity - as is smoking and drinking alcohol - and will rightly remain so. We know from the disasterous and ongoing “War on Drugs” that prohibition only drives people into the hands of crimials and discourages people from seeking help for their probelms. Nobody is suggesting stopping people from having a bet.

But the harm principle would suggest that when the price of the choices of individuals is not just paid by that person themselves, then society - through the government and our other collective organisations like the football authorities - have a responsiblity to not promote the activity, particularly in arenas where children are present.

Whilst obviously its ridiculous to compare the human and environmental devisation wraught on the world by the owners of Newcastle United to an online betting exchange. I believe that the industry will look back on the era of online betting sponsorship with a sense of embarrassment, and some 20 clubs have already refused to partner with gambling firms and called on the government to intervene.

We know that the Tory government has considered a ban on shirt-front advertising by gambling firms, but it has now bottled it and will to request a voluntary ban is self imposed by the ELF and Premier League rather than legislating.

A Premier League self-imposed ban may come in from next season, and with Sunderland’s goal being for the men’s team to reach that level as soon as possible, this partnership cannot be for the long term. But Everton fans have successfully protested against their clubs striking these kinds of deals, so it will be interesting to see whether or not Red & White Army will be willing to come down on one side of this issue and lead a campaign.

Sunderland AFC will no doubt say that it needs the money and this partnership is the best value that they could achieve, but there obviously are other brands that could have become our principle partner had the powers-that-be sought alternatives.

Formula 1 has managed to survive the ban on tobacco advertising and find new sponsors and appeal to new audiences. As Neil Graney wrote yesterday, this deal does not fit easily with the “Caring Club” brand.

I am also accutely aware of the fact that we have had a regular weekly feature called “Roker Riches” where a number of our writers give their betting tips and predictions. This rightly has been pointed out to us in response to our articles on social media.

We as an editorial team have made a decision to bring this feature to an end. Too many of our writers, podcasters and readers have been negatively impacted by gambling for this to continue to be a part of our output.


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