England’s most capped footballer, Peter Shilton, calls for an end to the advertising and sponsorship of gambling in football.
The 71-year-old, who has battled gambling addiction himself, has been joined by other activists in delivering a petition to Downing Street calling for tighter government restrictions on the industry.
It comes against the backdrop of the government’s review of the 2005 Gaming Law, with a white paper expected later this year or early 2022.
The petition, which was started by The Big Step and Gambling with Lives, joined Shilton’s campaign to ban Shilton’s soccer jersey games earlier this year with more than 12,000 signatures collected.
Campaigners say football is playing an active role in normalizing the game and attracting new players with research suggesting there are between 250 and 650 gambling-related suicides in the UK each year.
There are also currently up to 1.4 million adults addicted to gambling in the UK, as well as 55,000 children.
Shilton’s Soccer Shirt Gambling Ban is particularly focused on the impact that playing partners on club shirts are having on young people with only two of the 20 Premier League clubs this season not carrying such sponsorship.
Shilton, who revealed last year that he had struggled with gambling addiction for 45 years, said Sky Sports News: “Gambling in children is on the increase and we believe very strongly that it should be stopped
“The football jersey advertisement is a back door for children and interests them – they see their hero with betting advertisements on their jersey and think the game is fun.
“More and more clubs are not using advertising for gambling on the shirts, but what we would like to see is that when the contracts end they are no longer allowed to do so.”
Among the companies involved in the sponsorship is the Kindred Group, whose betting brands include 32Red and Unibet and have partnerships with clubs such as Rangers and Derby County.
A Kindred Group spokesperson said Sky Sports News: “The government is undertaking a review which will examine the facts and evidence regarding the sponsorship of football betting.
“As it stands, several university studies have shown that there is no causal link between advertising and the development of problem gambling. customers.
Kindred Group supports the increase in standard sports sponsorship in the UK. And licensed, responsible and UK-based operators have a role to play in being able to support English football – with that same level of access limited to those that don’t meet that test Talking about bans and ban-type measures on a legitimate industry that millions of people benefit from are brutal measures that we must strive to do better than these. “