The League Two team Forest Green Rovers is supporting the Big Step campaign, which wants an end to gambling sponsorship in football.
UK.- An English League Two football team has come out in support of a campaign to ban gambling sponsorship in the sport.
Forest Green Rovers, a club based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, has given its backing to the Big Step campaign, which was launched by the charity Gambling With Lives.
The campaign wants an end to all gambling sponsorship and advertising in football. It focuses on community educational drives to raise awareness of gambling-related harm.
The move comes despite opposition from the English Football League against proposals to ban gambling sponsorship in English football. The EFL, which has a deal with Sky Bet, said the gambling sector contributed £40m a year in funding to the sport.
There are currently reported to be 44 clubs in the top two divisions of English football that have gambling tie-ups, with 55 deals between them. The Betting and Gaming Council has emphasised that betting is essential to sport.
Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince OBE said: “It’s like gambling has taken over football. If you watch a game on TV you are inundated with ads – gambling logos are on almost half of Premier League shirts, and constantly flash up on pitch sideboards.
“For me, the fun already stopped. This is an abuse of football and of football fans.”
Big Step founder James Grimes said: “We’re delighted to have the support of Forest Green Rovers. This is a vital moment to secure meaningful gambling reform in the UK.
“As a recovering gambling addict and massive football fan, I’m passionate about ensuring the game is part of the solution to gambling harms.
“Our outdated gambling laws need to change, especially with the exponential rise of online gambling. Sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies is banned and we believe gambling should be the same.
“To be truly effective, shirt sponsorship, stadium promotions and other branding should not be visible during matches.”