Organisation says gambling partnerships crucial to clubs surviving during Covid-19.
- Over UK£40m a season paid by gambling sector to EFL and its clubs
- UK government set to review betting advertisements and sports sponsorship deals
- Main source of EFL club income ‘turned off’ due to matches being played behind closed doors
The English Football League (EFL) insists revenue generated from the gambling industry for the professional soccer clubs under it watch in the second, third and fourth tiers “is as important now as it has ever been”.
The league said its relationship with betting firms is under ‘constant review’, but remains vital to its member clubs in surviving the coronavirus pandemic.
An EFL statement read: ‘Through a highly visible awareness and education campaign, the EFL and Sky Bet work together to promote responsible gambling, with players from all three divisions wearing sleeve badges to encourage supporters to consider how they gamble and 70 per cent of the sponsor’s matchday inventory dedicated to safer gambling messaging.
‘With over £UK40 million a season paid by the sector to the league and its clubs, the significant contribution betting companies make to the ongoing financial sustainability of professional football at all levels is as important now as it has ever been, particularly given the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which is leaving many of our clubs living on a financial knife edge.’
The EFL said its member clubs contributed ‘almost UK£500 million annually to the Exchequer’, while their main source of income had been ‘turned off’ due to matches currently being played behind closed doors.
The government has yet to provide a roadmap to allow the safe return of fans to stadiums when other sectors were able to ‘welcome people through their doors’, the EFL said.
‘The inconsistency is frustrating and perplexing,’ the governing body added. ‘Our approach in respect of gambling sponsorship is under constant review and the league will also contribute to any call for evidence by the government as we seek to protect an important and vital income stream for our membership in a time of financial crisis.’
The EFL statement comes as a review of gambling advertisements and sports sponsorship deals is set to be at the heart of the biggest shake-up of the UK’s gambling laws in 15 years.
Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, will next month launch a call for evidence – the first step towards overhauling the 2005 Gambling Act.