In Brief

FA drops £4m-a-year deal with Ladbrokes

Football's governing body says its relationship with betting firm is incompatible with its oversight of the game

The FA has ended its sponsorship deal with the betting company Ladbrokes after "deciding it is inappropriate to have commercial relationships with gambling companies", reports The Times.

The deal, worth £4m-a-year, will come to an end just 12 months into a four-year contract and amid the increasing scrutiny of football's links with the betting industry.

The decision has been made following a review ordered by FA chairman Giles Clarke earlier this year. 

He had questioned "whether it was appropriate for the organisation to have a commercial partnerships with betting companies while it also had the authority to ban players for gambling on football matches", says the FT

In April, former Burnley, Newcastle and Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton was banned for 18 months for placing hundreds of bets on matches over several years.

He launched an attack on the FA accusing it of "dependence" on gambling companies.

"There is a huge clash between their rules and the culture that surrounds the modern game, where anyone who watches [or] follows football on TV or in the stadia is bombarded by marketing, advertising and sponsorship by betting companies," he wrote. 

Clarke's review, which lasted three months, was ordered before Barton's comments. In a statement the FA said the decision to terminate all agreements with betting companies had been taken at a meeting in May.

"The review also looked at sponsorship from alcohol firms but no action is being taken in that area," says the Times. 

The decision relates only to the FA. "There is no suggestion that clubs will be prevented from having gambling companies as sponsors."

As Charles Sale of the Daily Mail points out, football's links with betting firms are deeply embedded.

"Eleven teams in the Premier League had betting company logos on their shirts last season, while Sky Bet are title sponsors of the three divisions in the Football League," he notes.

FA orders inquiry into links with gambling and alcohol

5 May

The Football Association is to reconsider its relationship with gambling firms and alcohol companies, reports The Times

FA chairman Greg Clarke "has ordered a report into whether it is appropriate for the governing body of the sport to have official relationships" with businesses in those two sectors. "A decision is expected to be made by the FA board this summer."

Clarke told the paper: "We are actively considering what our position will be and should be. When you think back to when they took cigarette advertising off Formula One racing cars, sport has a duty to consider and ask itself what is right.

"I have thought about the relationship between betting and football, and alcohol and football, and I raised this at the start of the season when I took over as chairman. I asked for the management team to produce a report on what our position should be on a number of things, and gambling and alcohol were among those things."

However, it remains to be seen how much will change even if the FA, which has deals with Ladbrokes and drinks companies Carling, Budweiser and Carlsberg, changes its stance.

"There is no suggestion that clubs will be prevented from having sponsorship deals with gambling companies," says the Times.

Football has been hit by several controversies involving gambling, the most recent seeing Burnley midfielder Joey Barton banned for 18 months for placing illegal bets.

It is clear the Premier League has "a gambling problem", says the Financial Times.

"Anyone watching live football on television will be inundated with pleas to log into a betting account and place a wager on the final score," it adds. "Football stadiums are filled with ads touting gambling apps, while half the 20 Premier League clubs have kits sponsored by betting groups."

However, the backing of gambling firms is one of the reasons the Premier League has such financial weight, adds the paper.

"For British football's tight embrace of gambling to loosen, tougher regulation is the only solution," it concludes.

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