A ban on gambling advertising on Bulgarian sports is not being supported by the Bulgaria Football Union (BFU), the group revealed in a statement. 

A divided National Assembly carries an agenda to reform the country’s existing gambling laws, in which MPs have been urged to consider a ban on gambling advertising and to privatise the state-owned Bulgarian Sports Totalisator (BST).

The statement read: “The BFU condemns the widespread intentions of the future changes in the law regarding the advertising of gambling and betting companies in our country.

“In Bulgaria, more than two-thirds of the clubs exist thanks to the financing of the gambling industry, and the possible cessation of this source of income will almost certainly mean bankruptcy for most of them.

Last week, BFU – the governing body of professional football in Bulgaria – posted a notice on its website warning MPs against the mandate to enforce a blackout of gambling advertising.

The BFU decried political parties supporting an advertising ban as a “attempt to earn political dividends from football” at a time of crisis for the nation.

A General Election looms in Bulgaria, its fifth in two-years as Interim President Rumen Radev failed to form a coalition government as counterparts rejected the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) governing pact.

Less than a week in power, Radev has been given until the end of January to gather support for a ‘BSP union’ or be forced to face an election in March.

The BFU told MPs that its existing relationship with Efbet must be protected as the main sponsor of the Parva Liga (Bulgarian First League), in which the Bulgarian betting group provides direct financial support for 12 local football clubs.  

Ivan Vasiliev, President of Lokomotiv Sofia, Bulgaria’s biggest football club lambasted MPs for involving football sponsorships in divisive political affairs, in which consumers could be better protected than by imposing a ban. 

Lokomotiv’s President stressed that the club would simply cease to exist if it was left without the support of betting partner Betano. 

Urgency is required to form a new government, to tackle the Immediate concerns of inflation, pandemic costs and Bulgaria’s standing in the regional conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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