Labour Take Stand On Betting Shirt Sponsorship
Some would argue maybe Labour have better things to concern themselves with, but deputy leader Tom Watson has said the party would ban betting shirt sponsorships.
With the Football Association announcing over the summer that following a three month review, that wasn't sparked by Joey Barton, his ban and subsequent criticism about perceived double standards on betting in football, their association with gambling firms would come to an end - that announcement did not come with a mandate to end gambling companies being a main shirt sponsor of sides in the game.
Last year there were eleven clubs with a betting company as main shirt sponsor although this year it has dropped to nine top flight clubs, with a further three in Scotland and of course others in the EFL divisions and figures in May showed that over a 12 month period gambling on football was worth a record £1.4billion to bookmakers across the country.
Deputy leader and shadow culture secretary Watson yesterday said that football had to 'play its part in tackling Britain's hidden epidemic of gambling addiction' and claiming that shirt sponsorship deals game gambling companies 'massive exposure' something had to be done to address that.
The BBC quote Mr Watson as saying.
'Shirt sponsorship sends out a message that football clubs don't take problem gambling among their own fans seriously enough. It puts gambling brands in front of fans of all ages, not just at matches but on broadcasts and highlights packages on both commercial television and the BBC.'
Labour's plan would be to apparently extend the current ban on gambling adverts for U18's replica shirts and they want to extend that across all Football Association levels, but Mr Watson explained they would work with the FA to achieve this before considering legislation.
Now, I doubt few will be against this as an idea as it seems a natural progression anyway for football to take when it comes to gambling following the FA's decision over the summer, but there's very much a case of sabre rattling here from Labour to get a bit of good PR.
Any party who can claim to have won the last election whilst demonstrably losing knows how to play the PR game and the bottom line is, it's a soft touch move to placate and would in the grand scheme of things be as useful as deregulation of banks - and that worked out well for us didn't it!
Football is saturated with gambling, but gambling is part of life and it's a part of sport and removing 'names' from the front of shirts won't change the impact of inner stadium advertising, ground hoarding advertising (which will still be seen on television) and it certainly won't do anything to stop Ray Winstone bellowing through the TV in advertisements.
Many would accept it as another step in 'controlling' the saturation of the industry, others would like stronger steps from the getgo - but PR and sabre rattling won't help as betting is a legitimate industry and no doubt a vital source of income for clubs further down the football food chain.
Clive Hawkswood, Remote Gambling Association, responded to say the industry would await the proposals following the publication of the current review and whilst he admitted the association were 'mindful' of the issues surrounding shirt sponsorship and younger people, he had to question what real effect a blanket ban would have.
He's right to, it would have no meaningful effect on it's own - but it would be hugely symbolic, especially for those fans who object to being a walking billboard but that applies to all types of sponsorship.