The English Football League (EFL), which oversees the second, third and fourth tiers of football in the UK has issued a call for an evidence-based approach to gambling advertising, while reiterating its criticism of any blanket ban on sponsorship deals with the industry.
A number of groups have called for a ban on all gambling sponsorship in UK football, including a Select Committee in the House of Lords and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm. But the Football League has previously voiced its criticism of these plans, on the ground that such a ban would end a significant income source for many member clubs.
The EFL argues that the funding provided through sponsorship deals with the betting and gaming industry is of major significance for Football League clubs, particularly since many have been struggling for revenue due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement address the issue, the EFL emphasised the extent of financial support provided by the gambling sector to many of their clubs:
“With over £40m 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.”
The EFL added that this had been exacerbated by a lack of support for professional sports clubs from the government and they suggested that the way forward was through an evidence-based and collaborative approach, instead of an outright ban.
The League also pointed to the range of work it has been able to do through its sponsorship deal with SkyBet, which has enabled it to promote responsible gambling, including players in all of the EFL divisions to wear sleeve badges encouraging safer gambling among supporters. And they pointed out that SkyBet uses 70% of matchday inventory on responsible gambling messaging.