A former boss of the Football Association (FA) has become the latest figure to criticise the links between gambling and the sport.
Mark Palios, who previously served as the Chief Executive at the FA says that he is focused on reducing football sponsorship in the game. Speaking about the issue on BBC Radio, Palios said that he refuses to take any sponsorships from gambling firms at the club he chairs, Tranmere Rovers.
Palios said that while he couldn’t change the overall picture through one club, it was important from a personal perspective to challenge the pervasive influence of gambling sponsorship, and he added that the sport needed to wean itself off gambling sponsorships.
Gambling sponsorships and their role in football have become a major area of debate among politicians, the media and the public, while the UK Government has pledged to revisit the 2005 Gambling Act. But Palios is clear about the danger of gambling:
“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.”
There has been a steady growth in betting sponsorships in football over recent years. Currently, 60% of the clubs in the top two divisions in England have deals with betting operators. The English Football League (EFL), the governing body for the three remaining professional leagues in England, itself as a sponsorship deal, with Sky Bet, part of the Stars Group.
Addressing the issue, a spokesperson for the EFL said that they had a successful relationship with the betting firm and emphasised that Sky Bet were a full regulated bookmaker and were a responsible company, which recognised the importance of gambling safeguards.
Palios’ comments come soon after the appointment of Nigel Huddleston as the new minister for sport, tourism and heritage. Huddleston has previously expressed his concern over the involvement of gambling companies in sport and supported last year’s reduction in betting terminal stakes.