The English Football League (EFL) has criticised proposals to introduce a ban on betting sponsorship in British sport, saying that the sector contributes more than £40m (€44.4m/$49.8m) each season to the organisation and its clubs.
The ban was one of 66 recommendations set out by the UK’s House of Lords in its ‘Gambling Harm – Time for Action’ report, which was published this week in an effort to strengthen the gambling regulatory framework in Great Britain. This, it said should be phased out gradually for clubs below the top-tier Premier League, by 2023.
However, the EFL, which oversees the three divisions immediately below the top-tier English Premier League, hit out at plans ban all gambling sponsorship in sport, telling iGB it could threaten the financial stability of club across its leagues.
A number of clubs have spoken out about financial problems caused by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in recent times, and Championship club Wigan Athletic this week entered into administration, blaming Covid-19 as one of the main causes.
“The Covid-19 pandemic represents perhaps the biggest challenge to the finances of EFL clubs in their history, and with over £40m a season paid by the sector to the League and its clubs, the significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been,” an EFL spokesperson told iGB.
“The association between football and the gambling sector is long-standing and the EFL firmly believes a collaborative, evidence based approach to preventing gambling harms that is also sympathetic to the economic needs of sport will be of much greater benefit than the blunt instrument of blanket bans.”
The EFL spokesperson said that the organisation would be willing to work with the government and the gambling industry to establish the best way forward for all parties in terms of sporting sponsorship.
“The EFL has an open and regular dialogue with all relevant stakeholders regarding football’s ongoing relationship with the gambling industry and it is our belief that sports organisations can work with government and the gambling industry to ensure partnerships are activated in a responsible fashion,” the spokesperson said.
Despite the EFL’s opposition to the proposal, operators have spoken out in favour of the ban.
GVC Holdings, which operates the Ladbrokes-Coral business, said the plan would fit in with its own safer gambling strategy, Changing for the Bettor. Last July, GVC removed all in-ground and perimeter advertising from UK football venues, as part of a commitment to reduce gambling advertising.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), meanwhile, looked to highlight industry efforts to reduce gambling advertising around sports, and defended the role of betting in funding sports.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “We welcome the committee’s understanding of the role of…