GVC, bet365 Flutter, William Hill and Kindred have backed a Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) statement which supports offering the FA Cup broadcasting rights back to the Football Association.
The statement by Brigid Simmonds, Chairman of the BGC, is in response to this week’s media stir surrounding the media rights for the screening of FA Cup matches as a result of IMG’s distribution of the rights to bet365.
She stated: “Our members did not seek exclusivity for the rights to screen FA cup games. They are therefore happy for IMG to offer the rights to screen these games to the Football Association or another appropriate body so that the games can be viewed for free by the public with immediate effect.”
This follows on from the recent announcement by the FA which saw the association state that it planned to review the media sales process for the 2024-25 season onwards, when its deal with IMG expires.
An FA spokesperson released a statement which read: “We will review this element of the media rights sales process ahead of tendering rights to the new cycle from the 2024/25 season onwards. Leagues and clubs continue to govern their own relationships with gambling companies.
“The FA agreed a media rights deal with IMG in early 2017, part of which permits them to sell the right to show live footage or clips of FA Cup matches to bookmakers. Bet365 acquired these rights from IMG to use from the start of the 2018/19 season.
“This deal was agreed before we made a clear decision on The FA’s relationship with gambling companies in June 2017 when we ended our partnership with Ladbrokes.”
Simmonds’ statement now seemingly provides the FA with an opportunity to terminate the agreement which permits coverage on the bet365 site.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, commented: “It is extremely disappointing that the FA has been such a willing participant in the gamblification of football. Waiting until 2024 is not good enough – urgent action and the FA must work to scrap this harmful deal without delay.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has also weighed in on the debate surrounding the FA Cup’s streaming rights, with Sports Minister Nigel Adams saying that the government is ‘very angry’ with the current arrangement.
Reported by the BBC, Adams has confirmed that the government is due to be holding talks with the FA regarding the sale of its broadcasting rights to bookmakers.
Adams concluded: “I have spoken to the FA. The Prime Minister has made his views very clear. [The FA is] also looking at all options to see if this current deal can be restricted.
“We’re very angry as a government as well with this arrangement, especially on a weekend when the FA very worthily had the Heads Up mental health campaign. We have asked the FA to look at this current deal, see what opportunities there are to rescind this particular element of the deal, and I will be meeting with the FA next week.
“It’s absolutely right that the FA – [and] all sporting bodies who have links with sponsors across all sectors – need to be very mindful of impact that such deals have on vulnerable people.”