Forest Green Rovers Call for End to Gambling Sponsorship

The debate over gambling sponsorship rumbles on. League Two Forest Green Rovers have called for such deals to be banned. This makes them the first English professional club to make this declaration.

This is going to be an important year for the UK gambling industry. The 2005 Gambling Act is being reviewed and the sponsoring of sport by gambling companies is likely to be high on the agenda.

While Forest Green Rovers have made their views known, the English Football League (EFL) do not agree with them. Their chairman Rick Parry has said that if a ban was imposed, EFL clubs could lose up to £40 million a season. It wouldn’t help the EFL either as it is sponsored by SkyBet.

This comes on top of the gate revenue lost during the pandemic. Parry fears that further financial problems could see clubs going under. Surely however clubs would be able to replace such sponsorship with other companies coming on board. Tranmere Rovers chairman Mark Palios believes that alternative sponsors could be found so why continue with gambling sponsorship.

Dale Vince is the owner of Forest Green Rovers and has made his views clear. He believes that “gambling in football is an abuse of football and of fans.” Vince believes that gambling has “overtaken football,” with fans being “inundated” with adverts while watching games on television.

What does he expect though, gambling companies placing adverts during cookery programmes?” For the Forest Green owner, “the fun has already stopped.” You wonder if it ever began at Forest Green Rovers.

They are already the first vegan football club with sponsorship from Quorn. 2011 saw their owner ban players from eating red meat. The club has solar panels and a robot lawn grass mower. This year saw them playing in a strip made from recycled plastic and coffee grounds.

Their official milk partner is Oatly. No gambling sponsorship of course so nothing to lose from their views on the subject. This weekend sees them travel to Oldham, they are currently in the final promotion play-off position. It’s unlikely they’ve looked at the odds of them being promoted. Just between us they are 13/2 at William Hill to win the play-offs.

The League Two club have shown their support for the “Big Step” campaign. This has been set up by the charity Gambling With Lives. The campaign wants to see the end of all sponsorship, advertising and promotion of gambling in football. Their work includes awareness programmes and giving community education.

The founder of this campaign is James Grimes who is a recovering gambling addict. He’s delighted with the support received from Forest Green Rovers. He believes that we are at a “vital moment to secure meaningful gambling reform in the UK.”

His view is that just as sponsorship by tobacco companies was banned, the same approach should be taken to gambling. “To be truly effective, shirt sponsorship, stadium promotions and other branding should not be visible during matches,” he added.

At present there are eight Premier League and ten Championship sides with on-shirt gambling sponsorship. There are plenty of other deals though including boards around the pitch and online coverage, even betting shops at grounds.