The English Football League has defended its handling of betting advertising and its relationship with the UK gambling sector.
In a statement released on Sunday, the EFL affirmed it had an ‘open and regular dialogue’ with all relevant stakeholders – including government – regarding football’s ongoing relationship with the gambling industry. The EFL emphasised that betting advertising and sponsorships across its leagues had been undertaken in a ‘responsible fashion’.
The statement read: “The association between football and the gambling sector is long-standing, with a collaborative, evidence-based approach to preventing gambling harms of much greater benefit than that of a blanket ban of any kind.
“Through a highly visible awareness and education campaign, the EFL and Sky Bet work together to promote responsible gambling, with players from all three divisions wearing sleeve badges to encourage supporters to consider how they gamble and 70 per cent of the sponsor’s matchday inventory dedicated to safer gambling messaging.”
Furthermore, the statement went on to highlight the ‘significant contribution’ that betting companies make, over £40m, to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is ‘as important now as it has ever been’ due to the pandemic impact.
The EFL also reminded the government that its clubs contribute ‘almost £500m annually to the Exchequer’, and are committed to meet their financial obligations despite their core income stream of ticket sales being turned off indefinitely and without the financial support granted to other sectors.
“Our approach in respect of gambling sponsorship is under constant review and the League will also contribute to any call for evidence by the government as we seek to protect an important and vital income stream for our membership in a time of financial crisis.” concluded the EFL statement.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport faces mounting pressure to implement a blanket ban on football sponsorship, replicating similar actions taken in Italy and Spain, with the reform of gambling advertising and sponsorship laws set to be at the forefront of the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.