Scottish League Two club Edinburgh City has announced its support for The Big Step project – part of the Gambling With Lives charity – campaigning to ‘kick gambling ads out of football’, becoming the first Scottish club to back the initiative.
Gambling advertising is prominent within Scottish football, with Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic sponsored by gambling companies 32Red and Dafabet, and until recently, the Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Premiership were sponsored by William Hill and Ladbrokes respectively, before the latter was replaced by car retailer Cinch.
The semi-professional side’s support comes at a time when pressure is mounting on the Government to make tangible changes to existing legislation during their current review of the 2005 Gambling Act. The results of the review are due by the end of the year.
Jim Brown, Chairman of Edinburgh City FC, explained: “We decided it was time to adopt an ethical approach to all our partnerships; the pandemic has shown just how much football has the potential to be an immense power for good, so it makes sense to us to reinforce only positive messages both for physical and mental health.
“We are delighted to support The Big Step in their campaign as we share the same core value of trying to change the existing reliance on gambling in Scottish football.”
Forest Green Rovers became the first club to join the campaign earlier in May, with the EFL League Two team’s Chairman, Dale Vince, declaring that gambling advertising had ‘taken over football’.
The Big Step’s campaign has won the support from MPs, including Ronnie Cowan of the Scottish National Party, together with Labour’s Carolyn Harris, Paul Blomfield, Zarah Sultana and Dawn Butler.
“We are thrilled to have the support of Edinburgh City during a pivotal time for gambling reform in this county,” added James Grimes, Founder of The Big Step. “For most of us involved with The Big Step, the harmful relationship between gambling and football was the gateway for years of addiction – if only our clubs had taken this stance, things may have been different for us.
“Football doesn’t promote tobacco because of the health risks – it’s now time for more clubs to replicate ECFC’s commendable stance on advertising gambling which is risking the health of millions of young fans.”
More recently, the campaign called for a suspension of gambling advertisements during the 2020 UEFA European Championships, requesting that broadcasters reduce the amount of betting promotions during the month-long tournament.