Players’ shirts will no longer sport bookies’ logos, says MP
Carolyn Harris confident Britain’s Gambling Act will outlaw shirt sponsorship in leagues
The Betway logo on the jersey of West Ham United striker Jarrod Bowen. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Banning betting companies from being front-of-shirt sponsors for soccer clubs is “one of the most obvious things to do” within the new Gambling Act in Britain, the MP Carolyn Harris has said.
Spain’s ministry of consumer affairs is proposing to heavily restrict gambling advertising in the country, and if the proposals are passed into law it could lead to betting company logos disappearing from La Liga clubs’ shirts as early as next season.
Harris, the chair of the gambling-related harm all-party parliamentary group, is confident a new Gambling Act will outlaw shirt sponsorship in the English leagues when it is passed in the autumn or early in the new year.
A British House of Lords select committee recommended such a ban this month, but says it should not come into effect below Premier League level before 2023.
The coronavirus pandemic has placed even further strain on the finances of already hard-pushed English Football League (EFL) clubs, but Harris, the Labour MP for Swansea East, said they would need to wean themselves off betting sponsorship in the same way they had to cope with tobacco advertising becoming illegal.
“I think the government need to do more to support football clubs in terms of finances,” she said. “I’ve got no problem with sponsorship but it needs to be something that is far more family-friendly instead of things that can cause addiction. It’s the messaging that’s really important. It’s a family environment and therefore the sponsorship needs to come from a family organisation.”
Kids do see it as being loyal to their football club to use that bookmaker for gambling
Asked how confident she was that the law would change in this area, Harris said: “Fairly confident. It’s one of the most obvious things to do and all the groups who have reported or commented on this have said it is an area [ministers] need to tackle immediately. So I’m quite confident that will happen.”
Harris argues the appearance of betting company logos on shirts “normalises” gambling to children. “It’s subliminal isn’t it? Even though you might have a whistle-to-whistle ban, you still get logos around the stadium, you see it on the shirts continually,” she said.
“It’s the loyalty thing for kids that really worries me. Kids do see it as being loyal to their football club to use that bookmaker for gambling. Fifa 2020 replicates [reality] entirely. If your team has a gambling logo, on the game it shows that gambling logo.
“From a very, very early age we’ve normalised the association between football and gambling. This is where we get this problem in later life. Young people grow up believing to become involved in gambling is completely normal without knowing anything about the consequences of when it crosses that line.”