UK

‘Hugely disappointing for top football clubs to have gambling logos on shirts’

Top football clubs have been criticised for having gambling firms as the sponsors on their team shirts (John Stillwell/PA)
Top football clubs have been criticised for having gambling firms as the sponsors on their team shirts (John Stillwell/PA) Top football clubs have been criticised for having gambling firms as the sponsors on their team shirts (John Stillwell/PA)

Gambling company logos will be carried on the shirts of nine Premier League clubs for the upcoming season in a move branded “hugely disappointing”.

A charity said it “beggars belief that top-tier clubs are still taking money from companies that exploit vulnerable fans”, after analysing the new kits for the 2023/24 season.

Seven clubs will have gambling companies as their main shirt sponsor – namely Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brentford, Burnley, Everton, Fulham, and West Ham – while Crystal Palace and Wolves will carry logos on the shirt sleeves.

The Prince of Wales is said to have “made clear” he is “not happy” with gambling companies sponsoring football shirts (Cameron Smith/PA)
The Prince of Wales is said to have “made clear” he is “not happy” with gambling companies sponsoring football shirts (Cameron Smith/PA) The Prince of Wales is said to have ‘made clear’ he is ‘not happy’ with gambling companies sponsoring football shirts (Cameron Smith/PA)

The clubs were contacted by the PA news agency for comment.

Christian Action Research and Education (Care), which looked at the new season kits, said “constant exposure to gambling marketing is far from harmless” for people struggling with addiction.

Last month, the parents of Jack Ritchie, who died from suicide in 2017 aged 24 after becoming addicted to gambling, said the Prince of Wales had “made clear” to them that he is “not happy” with gambling companies sponsoring football shirts.

Liz and Charles Ritchie both received MBEs from William at Windsor Castle in June for their work setting up the charity Gambling with Lives in 2018.

Mr Ritchie said William was “not happy” that Aston Villa, the club the prince supports, had a shirt sponsorship deal with gambling platform BK8.

Premier League clubs collectively agreed in April to withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of match shirts but the decision will only come into effect at the end of the 2025/26 season.

After that time, clubs will still be able to feature gambling brands on shirt sleeves.

Ross Hendry, chief executive of Care, said: “It is hugely disappointing to see so many Premier League clubs still making sponsorship deals with gambling companies.

“Problem gambling is a huge concern and research shows people who bet on sports are particularly vulnerable.

“Many clubs in the Premier League have moved away from partnerships with big betting in recent years.

“Like tobacco advertising in sport in years gone by, gambling adverts are increasingly seen as unacceptable.

“They promote an industry that depends entirely on customer loss for its success, with a track record of putting profits before people.”

He said urgency is needed in moving towards a ban.

Mr Hendry added: “This commitment to end shirt-front sponsorship falls short of a complete ban and will not take effect for several years.

“Given the impetus for this move is protecting vulnerable fans, it is hard to understand why the Premier League is dragging its heels.

“Gambling industry wealth is no substitute for fan welfare.”

In April, under plans to tackle addiction in the biggest shake-up of the industry’s regulations in 15 years, it was announced that gambling companies are to be forced to step up checks on punters “to better protect even those unable to afford small losses”.

Government plans also include maximum stakes for online slot machines of between £2 and £15 for all customers subject to consultation and a new statutory levy that will see gambling companies required to fund more ground-breaking research, education and treatment

Campaigners had called for a ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship but the so-called “White Paper for the digital age” stopped short of that.