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EFL hits out at prospect of gambling sponsorship ban

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The English Football League (EFL), which governs the second, third and fourth tiers of English football, has called for an evidence-based approach to gambling sponsorship and reiterated its criticism of a blanket ban on commercial partnerships with the industry.

Multiple groups are calling for a ban on gambling sponsorship in British football, including a House of Lords Select Committee and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm.

However, the Football League has previously criticised these proposals, noting that a ban would cut off a major source of income for its member clubs.

The league argued that the funding provided by sponsors in the betting and gaming industry was of major importance to Football League clubs, especially as many clubs have struggled for revenue because of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. 

“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, particularly given the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which is leaving many of our Clubs living on a financial knife edge,” the EFL explained.

It added that this was exacerbated by a “frustrating and perplexing” lack of financial support for professional sports clubs.

The Football League said that, rather than a blanket ban on gambling sponsorship, “a collaborative, evidence-based approach” would be far more beneficial.

The EFL also pointed to some of the work done through its sponsorship deal with Flutter brand Sky Bet to promote responsible gambling, such as having players in all three divisions wear sleeve badges to encourage supporters to consider how they gamble.

Sky Bet, it pointed out, also uses 70% of its matchday inventory for safer gambling messaging.

With a call for evidence on the matter expected soon, the league added that it would contribute to any call for evidence by the government it seeks “to protect an important and vital income stream for our membership in a time of financial crisis”.

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