Former FA Chief Exec Condemns Gambling Sponsorship In Football

Former chief executive Mark Palios of the Football Association (FA), has reiterated his position to reduce football gambling sponsorships.

Palios explained to BBC Radio 4, why he refuses to accept gambling sponsorships at Tranmere Rovers, a club he chairs, and how’ too far’ has gone the relationship between football and betting.

The ex-FA boss stated: “This (Tranmere) is a family club that’s firmly rooted in the community and from our perspective it’s the wrong thing to do to get associated with the gambling industry. We can’t change the bigger picture in terms of the football industry being involved to the extent it is but from a personal perspective that’s what we do.

“Football has to wean itself off the position it is in at the moment – and that’s the best verb I can use. It’s certainly gone too far.”

Gambling sponsorships in football have recently become a major debate topic for spectators, businesses and the government, with a review of the Gambling Act currently underway.

Palios further added: “I see gambling as something that is pernicious. People get hooked into it and it is a hidden addiction.

“You see people stealing from their employers as we’ve seen and it destroys relationships and fundamentally damages family units and family units are a massive part of the community.”

Betting company sponsorships in football expanded year after year with 60 percent of clubs in the top two leagues in England having associations with gambling companies. The English Football League (EFL), which runs the second, third, and fourth divisions of the country, also has an important sponsorship agreement with Sky Bet.

An EFL spokesperson stressed: “The EFL itself continues to have a successful relationship with Sky Bet who, as a responsible, properly regulated bookmaker, recognise the importance of having the right safeguards in place.”

Palios’ remarks follow the appointment of Nigel Huddleston as leisure, culture and heritage minister. The conservative MP, a vocal supporter of last year’s maximum stake reduction Fixed-Odds betting terminal (FOBT), has also previously expressed its concerns about the involvement of the betting industry in sport.