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Tony Kelly Decries Betting Sponsorships in Football

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Retired footballer and recovering gambling addict Tony Kelly has urged football clubs to stop all partnerships with betting sponsors.

Kelly, who played mainly for English clubs like Wigan, Stoke City, and Bolton Wanderers in his two-decade career wants football teams to remove betting sponsors from their shirts.

Tony Kelly Calls for Stricter Regulations on Betting Advertising in Football

The ex-player disclosed losing £300,000 in nine years due to gambling and opined that eliminating betting brands from such visible positions could prevent others from getting addicted to betting.

Football teams frequently display betting brands on their shirts due to their lucrative sponsorship agreements with betting companies, valued in millions of pounds.

Related: Chelsea FC Release New Home Shirt without Front-of-Shirt Sponsor

While Premier League clubs have jointly decided to stop gambling sponsorships on the front of matchday shirts from the 2026/27 season, sleeve sponsorship and pitchside advertising for these services will still be allowed. Additionally, lower-tier English football clubs have chosen not to adopt the Premier League's stance.

The 58-year-old wants the UK government to implement stricter gambling regulations on betting advertising within the sports industry.

I’m hoping eventually there will be no gambling advertising, whether it’s on the front of the shirt or the shirt sleeves. And if you’re going to do it, go the whole way and take that gambling sponsorship away from football clubs. They don’t need gambling sponsors in my opinion.

Tony KellyEnglish former footballer

Ex Footballers and Betting Companies

Mr Kelly’s sentiment on the relationship between football and betting advertising is not shared by many ex-footballers. In contrast to his view, former footballers actively partner with betting companies as brand ambassadors.

These deals often require the footballers to appear in the brands’ marketing campaigns as well as promote them on their social media pages. While the former players’ reasons for associating with the betting companies may range from financial incentives to wanting to remain connected to the sport, one undeniable aspect is that the practice impacts the normalization of betting within the football culture.

Former footballers who have collaborated with betting brands include Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Robbie Savage, and most recently, Ray Parlour, who partnered with NetBet as its UK brand ambassador for the 2024 season.

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