EFL Defends Its Position as Betting Sponsorships Reach a Tipping Point

A spokesperson for the English Football League (EFL) has defended the organisation’s position on the betting industry in the wake of more calls for change.

Betting sponsors football shirts.

Sky Bet is among the companies keeping football clubs in England alive says the EFL. (Image: cafc.co.uk)

In a statement published in The Guardian, the EFL’s representative said that money from the gambling industry was integral to the organisation as a whole and the clubs within it.

“[Gambling firms] make a significant contribution to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels,” the spokesperson said on July 30.

EFL Wants Socially Responsible Gambling

Despite suggesting that the betting industry was propping up a number of EFL teams, the governing body said that it wants deals to be socially responsible. In line with the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) efforts to promote responsible gambling, the EFL launched a new awareness campaign back in May.

Working alongside EFL sponsor Sky Bet, the £1 million campaign will provide training on the potential dangers of gambling to all 72 EFL clubs. However, despite these recent efforts, GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches believes we’re now at a tipping point.

With 17 of the 24 Championship sides having a betting partner, Etches is concerned that football and gambling have become dangerously intertwined.

“We have a generation of fans who believe you have to bet on football to enjoy it and that is disturbing and concerning. Watching football and having a bet is becoming normalised but we’re not talking about it,” Etches said on July 30.

Football and Betting Are an Effective Duo

The debate over football and betting is one that’s become more of an issue over the last 18 months. Recent research from the University of Glasgow showed that 95 percent of football sponsorship deals since 2005 have involved betting operators.

In September 2017, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson pledged to tackle the issue if his party get into power. That announcement came three months after the Football Association, which controls the Premier League, ended its relationship with the betting industry.

For anti-gambling advocates, more needs to be done to reduce the influence of betting on English football. However, unlike Premier League teams with their multi-million pound sponsorship deals, many of the smaller EFL clubs are desperate for funding.

Between this and the recent news that betting revenue during the 2018 World Cup topped £2.5 billion, the current relationship seems to be one that neither party will want to end just yet.

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