Concern over gambling branding on children’s pages in football programmes | Football


Football clubs’ matchday programmes are saturated with gambling adverts and branding, including on pages aimed at children, according to a study.

In one case highlighted by psychology experts, a logo for the online casino 888 featured as the answer to a Spot The Difference competition aimed at young Birmingham City fans.

Analysis of 44 programmes from the Premier League and Championship found that they featured an average of 2.3 gambling adverts, four times as many as for alcohol.

The average publication also contained nearly 38 examples of “incidental” exposure, such as pictures of players wearing shirts sponsored by a bookmaker or online casino.

Such images featured on 22% of the pages of the average programme, rising to more than 50% in some cases, according to experts at the University of East London, Warwick and Anglia Ruskin.

“Of particular concern is the identification of significant exposure to gambling marketing in the dedicated child sections of matchday programmes,” the researchers said.

They found that 39 of the 44 programmes analysed, which were available to more than 1.2m matchgoing fans, included pages targeted specifically at children. Of those sections, 59% had pages showing gambling logos or branding, with none containing any messages about responsible gambling.

The children’s section of a Birmingham City programme featured the logo of the online casino 888 as the answer to a Spot The Difference quiz, while a Blackburn Rovers page featured a 12-year-old mascot wearing a shirt emblazoned with rival casino 32 Red.

A spokesman for Birmingham City said: “We take very seriously our responsibility in this field and the example brought to our attention, which was from more than a year ago, will have been an oversight on our part and certainly not indicative of something that is typical of our club.” The club are no longer sponsored by 888. Blackburn have not responded when contacted by the Guardian.

READ  Relx/librarians: silent witness | Financial Times

Kev Clelland, operations director at the youth gambling charity YGAM, said the prevalence of gambling on shirts, advertising hoardings, programmes and video games often came up in sessions with young people.

He said: “I often quote my own kids – a recent example of this is my son, who is 10, was at his gran’s the other week and was drawing a picture of a football match, which included the advertising hoarding and the branding of a well-known gambling operator written on it.”

The industry’s largest firms recently signed up to a voluntary “whistle to whistle” ban on TV advertising, beginning five minutes before live sports events and ending five minutes after.

But previous research has shown that the prevalence of gambling sponsorship of football shirts, together with pitch-side hoardings and logos displayed during post-match interviews, mean that company branding is highly visible even when no adverts are shown.

Half of Premier League teams have a gambling sponsor this season, while the dominance is even more pronounced in the Championship, where the figure is 17 out of 24.

The Bet 24 logo appearing on the children’s pages of the Blackburn Rovers programme.



The Bet 24 logo appearing on the children’s pages of the Blackburn Rovers programme.

Deals such as Wayne Rooney’s deal with the online casino 32 Red, which part-funded his transfer to Derby County in exchange for him wearing the No 32, have also met with criticism. Labour has said it would ban betting firms from sponsoring shirts.

Dr Steve Sharman, a research fellow at the University of East London and one of the report’s co-authors, said: “While a significant amount of discussion is currently centred around TV gambling advertising, the average football fan can be exposed to significant amounts of gambling marketing through other channels.

“This research shows that the average matchgoing fan is exposed to almost 40 gambling brand placements, and around 2.5 gambling adverts through the matchday programme alone. This comes at a time when 78% of young people say that betting has become a normal part of sport.

“Whilst the whistle-to-whistle ban on TV adverts may reduce the number of actual adverts during live sport, football fans are still exposed to a variety of gambling marketing through other channels.”

Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.

James Grimes, a recovering gambling addict whose Big Step campaign in aid of charity Gambling With Lives urged football clubs to review gambling sponsorship, said the study justified the debate around the sport’s ties to betting.

“These concerning figures once again confirm the lack of responsibility by football and its sponsors to protect young fans from gambling glamorisation and the associated harms,” he said.

“Matchday programmes are a trusted, traditional part of the football experience that encourage family reading. In directly and indirectly promoting gambling to children, it desensitises gambling to young people alongside the dangerous prevalence of this form of advertising across shirts, pitch-side hoardings, competition sponsorship and social media.

“The Big Step is asking clubs to evaluate their relationship with gambling companies and if they started to offer gambling ad-free programmes that are safe for child viewing, that would be a big preventative step.”



READ SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here