England legend Peter Shilton slams EFL over gambling deal that sees teams make profit from gambling losses and says clubs are ‘not looking after their fans’…while Forest Green Rovers owner calls for football to kick its gambling habit
- Peter Shilton has hit out at the deal that sees clubs make money off fans’ losses
- Ex-England goalie says clubs aren’t looking after their fans with current deal
- Shilton has spent most of his life battling his own gambling addiction
- Forest Green Rovers’ Dale Vince says football should live without gambling
England legend Peter Shilton has condemned the EFL gambling deal which saw clubs make profits from their own fans’ gambling losses, as Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince called on football to kick its gambling habit for good.
Under the EFL’s deal with Sky Bet, clubs would get a percentage share of a punter’s losses if they registered with the bookie via their club. The deal started in 2013 and the practice was only curtailed in 2020 with some clubs are still being paid for the losses their fans incurred up to 2020.
Shilton, who won 125 caps for England, captained his country and won two European Cups and the league title with Nottingham Forest, spent much of his life battling a gambling addiction and now campaigns against the saturation of gambling ads in football.
Peter Shilton has criticised the EFL for their current Sky Bet deal that takes advantage of fans
Shilton said: ‘I’ve said for quite a while that football has an unhealthy relationship with gambling in terms of sponsorship. It seem football clubs were taking the money instead of looking after their fans.
‘From my point of view, it’s just one example of the way some clubs operate. There are adverts on shirts and billboards throughout the stadiums. Football has always been a family game and I don’t think that’s right for a family
‘I know the clubs are desperate for money but they seem to find it for astronomical wages. It’s about value and football needs to look at itself. Gambling ruins lies there is one suicide a day men and women people getting addicted.’ A Public Health England report from September 2021 cited 409 suicides a year linked to gambling addiction.
Shilton added: ‘I’ve never said we want gambling banned. It’s just the amount of it connected to football that needs to be limited.’
The deal started in 2013 and was curtailed in 2020 – though some clubs are still being paid the losses their fans incurred up to two years ago
Annie Ashton, whose husband Luke took his own life after struggling with a gambling addiction which started through football, wrote in The Guardian last week: ‘It’s almost unbelievable: clubs are encouraging their own fans to gamble and then the same clubs cash in when they lose. The more fans lose, the better it is for them. A family’s ruin is the jackpot.’
The EFL say that the practice was discontinued when it renewed the Sky Bet deal in 2020 because it was putting greater focus on safer gambling.
However, that isn’t enough for Dale Vince, green energy entrepreneur and owner of League One Forest Green Rovers, whose club work with The Big Step, a charity set up by bereaved families campaigning to end gambling advertising in football. Forest Green Rovers refuse to take any sponsorship from gambling and instead displaying Big Step logos at the ground.
Vince said: ‘Gambling already gives money to clubs to carry their brands to encourage fans to gamble, which means they’re being encouraged to lose money. So this scheme seems quite egregious but I’m not sure it’s any different to taking the corporate shilling of a gambling company and sticking their brand in front of their fans to encourage loss-making activity.
Shilton (right) who won 125 England caps in his career, has spent much of his life battling a gambling addiction
‘I think gambling dominates football today, it’s hyper normalising gambling as an activity amongst fans and that’s wrong. We can see the enormous social damage of gambling, the addictions the suicides. It’s not about calling for a ban on gambling, it’s about reining in football. If you watch Premier League coverage, it is dominated by gambling adverts: pitch-side board, every intermission, in programmes, on shirts.
‘Everything is all about gambling with smart phone in play gambling all these tweaks that make it more accessible easier to lose money. Our stance not that it needs banning but rein it in and we shouldn’t have shirt sponsorships.
‘We think that football can live without gambling money in the way that Formula One lives without tobacco money. Back in the day Formula One thought they couldn’t live without tobacco sponsorship. They said it would kill the sport but it didn’t. It’s a thriving sport. I’ve heard the sum [total of gambling’s value to the EFL] is £60m. We could replace that if we chose to or were forced.’
Championship side Luton Town have turned down gambling sponsorships
Forest Green owner Dale Vince (pictured after their promotion to League One) has called on football to kick it’s gambling habit
Championship side Luton Town have also turned down gambling sponsorships and were supported in their stance by Shilton’s England team-mate Gary Lineker, who tweeted: ‘All clubs should do this, particularly those in the Premier League, who shouldn’t be drawing in naïve youngsters into a world of gambling that can lead to misery and desperation. It’s pure avarice.’
The Premier League were on the verge of announcing a voluntary ban on gambling adverts as the main shirt sponsor in anticipation of a government ban, but delays to the Government White Paper on gambling reform has encouraged the clubs to delay, with the new Prime Minister Liz Truss believe to favour less regulation, which means Vince says football should lead the way without being forced.
Vince said: ‘This government are in favour of deregulation. At present, they want to strip 579 environment protections that we have on the statute books. It’s small-state ideology and Liz Truss wants to get rid of the sugar tax from processed food industry, so I think football has to do it.’