A problem nobody wants to talk about…

The new football season is almost upon us. Good news for some, bad news for all the football widows. Good news for the various gambling/casino websites whose name and logos will be emblazoned across the chests of professional footballers in the English leagues, bad news for the people who struggle with gambling problems and their families.

Earlier this year, footballer Joey Barton became just the latest in a long line of current players to admit to a gambling problem, after being banned for placing in the region of 1200 bets on football matches (not involving his own team). His ban of 18 months was considered harsh in some circles, particularly if you consider the fact that the Football Association had business and sponsorship deals with Ladbrokes. This was subsequently cancelled after Barton himself highlighted the hypocrisy. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Of the 92 football clubs in the top 4 divisions, at least 24 will have one gambling website or another printed on their shirts (source Historical Football Kits). That’s a quarter, give or take a fraction, of the teams. In the Premier League, the so-called ‘best league in the world’, 10 of the 20 teams are sponsored by these companies.

Now, personally, I feel that gambling is just as damaging as drugs, alcohol and smoking, yet you don’t seem to see any of these printed on football shirts anymore!! I remember the good old days when teams were sponsored by Electronics companies, or local enterprises. Arsenal were sponsored by JVC; Liverpool by Candy; Aston Villa by Mita Copiers and so on. Admittedly, Tottenham had a long-term sponsorship deal with Holsten, but as I recall, in the days before replica kits were the huge business they are today, the youth replica shirts did not feature the alcohol sponsor.

And that concludes this rant for today. Feel free to comment or have your say.