Bloom’s Betting Links Won’t Hurt Brighton FC’s Premier League Dreams

Brighton FC owner and Chairman Tony Bloom is the talk of the football world at the moment, but his links with the betting industry mean he’s towing a thin line with the Football Association (FA).

Tony Bloom Brighton.

Brighton boss Tony Bloom can maintain his betting industry interests despite the FA’s gambling ban. (Image: wsop.com)

After investing £80 million into the football club back in 2009, Bloom’s gamble finally paid off at the close of the 2016/2017 when the Seagulls made it to the top flight of English football.

The eight-year effort required around £250 million in investments and the bulk of the money came from Bloom’s sports betting business: Star Lizard Consulting.

FA Takes Hard-line on Gambling

Despite having a heavy hand in the betting world with a company employing more than 200 people, Bloom won’t incur any penalties from the FA. Under the organisation’s rules, no member of a football club, from the players to the backroom staff, can bet on a football match.

In 2014, then FA general secretary Alex Horne announced that the organisation wanted to remove any ambiguity from its rules and enforce a complete ban on betting. Citing a series of 2011 match fixing incidents in Italy as a primary reason for the change, Horne explained that anyone linked to a club would be banned from betting on an event they were participating in.

This rule has caught out a number of players, most notably Joey Barton in 2017, and it’s something the FA is keen to enforce as much as possible. In fact, with football and betting becoming a politically charged topic in 2017, the FA decided to cut its ties with sponsors such as Ladbrokes.

Claiming that it was a conflict of interest to use gambling companies as sponsors but enforce a blanket ban on betting, the FA blew the whistle on various long-term deals. However, despite distancing itself from the industry, the FA has said Bloom won’t incur any penalties.

Provisions in Place for Bloom Et Al

Now he’s in the spotlight more than ever, the New York Times has obtained clarification from the FA on the situation. According to a recent report, the FA has unwritten rules in place whereby individuals can “continue to have both an interest in football clubs and in betting companies.”

A representative explained in an email to the US publication that these exceptions are subject to strict rules and reporting obligations. Although the representative declined to elaborate further, this will likely mean that Bloom can’t have any direct stake in the bets his company is making.

Although Bloom’s links to the betting world are now becoming mainstream news, he’s not the only football team owner with links to the industry. The Coates family, owners of bet365, also control Stoke City, while Smartodds’ Matthew Benham owns Brentford.

At this stage, the dynamic between football club owners and their betting interests doesn’t appear to be an issue for the FA. However, the governing body has shown in 2017 that it’s willing to make drastic changes if they’re necessary.

Indeed, with Bloom walking a fine line, there will be a lot of officials watching to make sure the integrity of the sport remains intact.   

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