January 26, 2023 3 min read


Wheeler: Football Players Should Speak up, Protect the Public

Players have a responsibility to protect football fans, communities, colleagues and future generations from gambling harm

An active football player from the English Football League (EFL) voiced loud his concerns about the amount of gambling advertising that is flooding society, claiming that he would rather take a pay cut than profit from addiction, harm and suicide.

Kick Gambling Advertising out of the Sport

David Wheeler, a professional football player who has been playing for over a decade for the likes of Exeter, QPR, Portsmouth, MK Dons, and now, Wycombe, took a public stand against gambling advertising in The Guardian.

“In nearly all of my 500 appearances, I’ve had an online casino advert either on my shirt or surrounding me on the pitch,” Wheeler stated, adamant gambling advertising should be kicked out of the sport.

Wheeler admitted that it was not the responsibility of footballers to set policy but the authorities responsible for doing it, the government, regulator and governing bodies, “have so far failed.”

Yet, he believes that players “do have a responsibility to speak up” when there is a threat to the supporters, the communities and even their colleagues, mentioning the high-profile examples of footballers who have been punished for participation in betting over the past few years.

Leagues and Clubs Should Play Their Part

Wheeler lambasted the EFL deal with Sky Bet which named the league after the gambling brand, and pointing to the responsible gambling failure of Sky Betting and Gaming when it sent free spin offers to self-excluded players and exploited football fans through sign-up offers, strongly urged the league to seek for a sponsor outside of the gambling sector when the deal expires next season.

He was also highly critical of the number of times gambling advertising spots appear during matches from the EPL on television, as well as the high number of EPL clubs featuring a betting sponsor on the front of their shirts, arguing that “clubs are precious” and they should “act as mental health solace” for their fans, instead of being part of a model that incurs “huge long-term cost to society.”

Wheeler also considered the financial aspect of the matter and that gambling advertising directly contributes to player wages, and while some justify that football should generate as much money as possible at all costs, he begs to differ.

Costs Outweigh Benefits

“… I can assure you I’d rather be paid less if it meant not profiting from addiction, harm and suicide – and I’m not the only one,” he stated as a display of his determination to take a pay cut instead of contributing to people’s suffering.

Finally, Wheeler said that “football is heading towards some sort of reset with a regulator being introduced this year,” hoping to see it become “fairer, cleaner and more sustainable” while also changing the game’s relationship with gambling.

Positive Steps Ahead

Wheeler mentioned The Big Step campaign that aimed to end gambling sponsorship in football and was backed by more than 30 clubs already. The campaign was led by Gambling with Lives, the charity set up by families who have lost loved ones to gambling-related suicides.

He was delighted to see a growing movement to kick gambling advertising out of football gather pace and Wales legend Hal Robson-Kanu publicly calling for an end to gambling sponsorships, adamant that more players should follow his example.

Lead Author

With 4 years experience as an analyst, Julie—or ‘Jewels’, as we aptly refer to her in the office—is nothing short of a marvel-worthy in her attention to the forex and cryptocurrency space as she quickly became the first pick to co-pilot education to the masses with Mike.

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