Former Scottish politician Ruth Davidson has called on soccer clubs to rethink their long-term association with the gambling industry. In her C4 Documentary, Davidson cited that gambling logos are appearing up to 700 times during a regular-season soccer game in the UK. The former conservative leader has called on her former colleagues to force the sports industry to re-evaluate its relationship with the gambling sector in the UK.
A former player and self-confessed soccer fan, Davidson pressed local authorities on the need for a change after speaking with former gambling addicts. In the documentary, Davidson highlights the reliance that UK soccer clubs have on the gambling industry. She spoke with academics and campaigners who measured the visibility of gambling advertising during English Premier League and Championship broadcasts.
Gambling Advertising Continues to Dominate English Soccer
Academics on the show documented 716 pieces of gambling-related advertising during one EPL match between Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The cry from Davidson comes as English politicians continue to press for a review of gambling sponsorship for soccer teams in the UK.
In the Channel Four documentary, Davidson’s team focus on the dangers of cross-selling during soccer broadcasts. Experts on the show explain that cross-selling is a sales method used by gambling companies, inviting soccer fans to use other products that include casino and slot games. Davidson’s experts contend that the invitation to casino games encourages a much higher rate of addiction.
The soccer industry in the UK continues to impose a “gentleman’s agreement” on a whistle-to-whistle ban of gambling advertising during some games, the high rate of gambling match-day branding in stadiums and on team shirts make this impossible to enforce.
Gambling Partnerships Continue to Tarnish Soccer’s Reputation in the UK
The Premier League and Championship continue to resist the calls to change from the political establishment in the UK. Last October the English Football League (EFL), released a statement calling the relationship between soccer clubs and gambling companies “intrinsic.”
Davidson’s documentary highlights the struggles of some professional soccer players with gambling and shows how some professional clubs have been able to successfully distance themselves from gambling sponsorship.