According to a report by BBC News, Premier League clubs are set to agree a voluntary end to betting partnerships featuring on the front of shirts. 

It comes as the publishing of the UK government’s White Paper on gambling looms and the relationship between gambling and sport is magnified. 

Whilst it has been widely reported that the UK Gambling Review will resist guidance on betting sponsorship, Premier League clubs have been given instruction to generally lower the exposure of their betting collaborations.

The original decision of the government to enable top tier teams to settle sponsorship terms with gambling operators was met with backlash from many corners. 

However, steps taken by clubs may well be key in diluting the visibility and extent of betting sponsorships, with front-of-shirt deals at the heart of much of the criticism. 

Phasing out shirt sponsorships, it was reported that betting brands will still be allowed to feature across football grounds and ‘other parts of club shirts’ – something that may well lead to backlash from a host of groups. 

Gambling with Lives, which represent families bereaved by gambling-related suicide launched its ‘Big Step’ campaign to end all gambling advertising/sponsorships in football and carries the support of over 30 clubs in the UK and Ireland.

The Premier League has previously emphasised that “a self-regulatory approach would provide a practical and flexible alternative to legislation or outright prohibition”.

Yet its response was scoffed at by Conservative peer Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who criticised the league for allowing 17 clubs to maintain betting partnerships, which in turn has converted football fans into walking advertisements for betting sponsors.

Reform advocates have long-called for English football to revise its relationship with gambling and end shirt sponsorships, with some calling the latter decision a ‘common sense’ conclusion of the review. 

However, some footballing stakeholders have pointed to the extensive financial support the gambling industry gives to the sport, particularly lower league clubs – with the White Paper apparently due soon, the argument may be close to being settled for now.

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