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Rick Parry, the chairman of the English Football League (EFL), has spoken out against a ban on sports betting endorsement deals, citing financial issues for lower-league clubs.
In an interview with the Financial Times (FT), Parry said that a ban on betting advertising would be “catastrophic” for smaller football clubs “in the aftermath of the pandemic.”
Parry’s remarks came only two months after it was revealed that a ban on gambling sponsorships would be “the most possible result” of the current review of UK gambling legislation.
According to policy proponents, the vote to prohibit betting companies from sponsoring athletes’ shirts has bipartisan consensus and the support of “two-thirds of the public,” while Carolyn Harris MP of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm (GRH APPG) lauded the initiative as one of the review’s “common-sense outcomes.”
In February, a group of “50 former gambling addicts” approached a number of UK football clubs with a message about the risks of marketing betting products via social media outlets.
Overall rise in gambling addiction
The near ties between football clubs and betting firms, according to proponents of gambling law reform, foster gambling patterns among children and young adults, contributing to an overall rise in gambling addiction.
The EFL Chairman, on the other hand, has slammed these arguments, telling the Financial Times: “There is no evidence to suggest that banning sponsorship will reduce the prevalence of problem gambling.”
The EFL, which includes the Championship, League One, and League Two, is currently backed by Sky Bet, and more than half of Championship clubs have betting deals, while Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers reportedly cut ties with Football Index after the company went bankrupt.
Plummeted ticket prices
As a result of the pandemic, ticket prices have plummeted, accounting for about one-fifth of Championship turnover in 2018/19, leaving several clubs in a desperate financial situation, although men’s football has been entirely exempt from the government’s £300 million winter relief plan for UK sports.
As a result, many football teams have turned to jersey sponsorships as a major source of income. The EFL’s 72 teams could lose up to £40 million in annual sales as a result of the suspension, which Parry has described as money they can’t afford to lose.