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FA targets gambling cash with ‘fair return’ proposal

| By iGB Editorial Team
Funds would be used to support football’s development at grassroots level

The English Football Association (FA) has set out proposals to introduce a levy on bets to in order to draw more money from the gambling sector and help fund development of the sport at grassroots level.

Martin Glenn, chief executive of the FA, revealed the plans during an interview with the Telegraph, saying that such a move could push funding for the body’s ‘Football Foundation’ initiative past £100m (€112.7m/$128.1m).

Glenn said the FA, Premier League and government currently commit £64m to the project, which supports grassroots football initiatives across the country.

The FA had expected the sale of Wembley Stadium to boost funds, but after the £600m deal involving American Shahid Khan fell through earlier this month, it is now seeking other sources of income, with gambling seemingly top of the hit list.

Gambling has a huge affiliation, with nine out of 20 teams in the Premier League having shirt sponsorship deals in place with gambling firms, while 17 clubs in the second-tier Championship have similar agreements.

“There are things definitely worthy of consideration,” Glenn told the newspaper. “France has effectively a tax on gambling. We would call it a fair return on football gambling.”

“All those betting companies use our intellectual property to have people lay bets, so why wouldn’t a small percentage of that be put into the thing that made that possible in the first place? We, as football, could approach government and say ‘Have you thought about something like that?”

Glenn’s comments are similar to those made by senior executives at some of the major sports leagues in the US in regards to so-called ‘integrity fees’.

Since the repeal of PASPA earlier this year, some leagues have been calling for states that legalise sports betting to feature a clause in legislation whereby the leagues would receive a cut of wagering revenue, in return for the gambling companies taking bets on their respective competitions.

However, the leagues are yet to convince any state to adopt this approach, with West Virginia recently snubbing NBA, MLB and PGA Tour proposals

Glenn said that the fee operators could face in the UK “doesn’t need to be a big lump sum” but it would be “brilliant” if the FA were able to increase budgets for grassroots football.

He said: “We’ve got £64m going into the Football Foundation between the three of us – imagine if it was £80m or £100m. If we could get to that it would be brilliant.”

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