FA to review betting rights deals amid government criticism
The English Football Association (FA) has said that it will review elements of its media rights sales process after it drew criticism from the government over allowing matches in the FA Cup to be streamed live on a betting website.
Bet365 streamed coverage of 23 matches in the third round of the competition last weekend, with customers able to view the games via the operator’s website and mobile application.
This was made possible via a deal between the IMG agency and the FA, which, signed in early 2017, permits IMG to sell rights to show live footage or clips of FA Cup matches to bookmakers.
However, the move attracted criticism from various quarters after it was flagged that the FA in June 2017 announced it was to distance itself from commercial partnerships with the gambling industry. The FA ended a long-term partnership with Ladbrokes to mark the start of this approach.
Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said on Twitter that “things have moved on” since the contract between the FA and IMG was agreed. Morgan also called for the FA to re-consider its approach to reflect its stance on gambling.
Sports Minister Nigel Adams also called for change, saying in a Twitter post: “The gambling landscape has changed since this deal was signed in early 2017. All sports bodies need to be mindful of the impact that problem gambling can have on the most vulnerable.”
When contacted by iGamingBusiness.com about the issue, an FA spokesperson said that Bet365 acquired rights to stream FA Cup matches on its platforms from the start of the 2018-19 season.
The spokesperson also made clear that the FA’s decision about its own strategy on gambling was made in June 2017, after the IMG contract was signed, and the FA is obligated to deliver betting rights for FA Cup matches under the existing agreement.
The six-year deal is due expire in the 2024-25 season and the spokesperson said the FA will review its approach to future media rights deals in order to address the issue and better reflect its gambling strategy.
“We will review this element of the media rights sales process ahead of tendering rights to the new cycle from the 2024-25 season onwards,” they said. “Leagues and clubs continue to govern their own relationships with gambling companies.”
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