GWL launches Football Supporters Against Gambling Ads

| By Nosa Omoigui
Gambling With Lives-affiliated (GWL) campaign group The Big Step has launched Football Supporters Against Gambling Ads (Football SAGA), which will lobby for an end to gambling advertising in the sport.

Football SAGA’s website will allows supporters from clubs across the country to voice their concerns surrounding the influx of gambling advertising and marketing in the sport.

The site launched with the support of nine supporters’ groups, including the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust, Plymouth’s Argyle Fans’ Trust, and Birmingham City’s Blues Trust.

Football SAGA’s formation comes in the wake of a fan-led review into football, led by Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch, failed to examine football’s relationship with gambling. That inquiry was set up in the wake of the failed European Super League project, and focused on the governance structures of clubs.

“The fan-led review report is looking to make football fairer and more sustainable, but gambling’s dominance over the sport is not fair or sustainable and mustn’t be ignored – we will do everything we can to make sure fans views are heard by government,” The Big Step founder James Grimes said.

Grimes claimed there was “overwhelming public support” for a ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship in football.

“We’re delighted to already have the support of nine supporters’ groups, and we look forward to welcoming many more to Football SAGA,” he added.

The Big Step wrote to ITV during Euro 2020 this summer, calling for the broadcaster to refrain from showing any gambling ads during England’s semi-final match with Denmark.

ITV also recorded a 47% reduction in gambling ads during the Euro 2020 group stage when compared to the 2018 World Cup.

“Gambling advertising has saturated the game,” adds Mo Razzaq, club liaison officer at the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust “So much, that it has become normalised to such an extent that young people grow up thinking this is a harmless activity.

“Compulsive gambling has a devastating impact on physical, mental, and financial health. We need to take action against the damage it is doing to our communities and society as a whole.”

Gambling brands sponsoring football clubs has been a key point of contention for reform campaigners, with groups such as the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group and Peers for Gambling Reform calling for an outright ban. The industry has already implemented a ban on gambling advertising around pre-watershed sports broadcasts, which standards body the Betting and Gaming Council claims to have significantly cut minors’ exposure to industry promotions.