Volume: 16 Issue: 5
The Football Association (‘FA’) is considering introducing a football betting levy similar to the Horserace Betting Levy and is currently reviewing the appropriateness of its official betting partnership amid concerns about the sport’s relationship with gambling following widespread allegations of illegal betting within the sport, according to an article published by The Telegraph on 4 May 2017.
“The prospect of a football betting levy being imposed is extremely unlikely. Even if comparisons are made to the Horserace Levy, Government has consistently stated that there is no read across to other sports,” said Brian Wright, Director of Business at the Remote Gambling Association. A betting levy would require bookmakers that take bets on the sport from UK gamblers to pay a levy with the money being put back into the sport, which could provide an alternative source of income to sponsorship.
The FA, the governing body for association football in England, suspended Burnley midfielder Joey Barton on 21 April 2017 from football and all football activity for 18 months after he admitted an FA misconduct charge for betting on football competitions he was a participant in, contrary to FA Betting Rules. In a statement published by Barton following his suspension he stated that “I think if the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet.”
The Scottish Football Supporters Association (‘SFSA’) published a statement on its website following Barton’s suspension, the investigation of which included proceedings brought in Scotland, calling for questions to be asked about football’s relationship with betting. “You have to see beyond the immediacy of the sponsorship money and accept that just like other sponsorships that have gone before, such as tobacco and alcohol, the sport we love needs to tread very carefully and potentially adjust its moral compass,” states the SFSA.
Wright comments however that “The licensed betting industry has always been a willing ally in the fight against corruption; and an important commercial partner for the football sector. Given that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with the current relationship between the two sectors, there is no obvious reason for that to change. However, if recent media focus has led to sensitivities we would be happy to discuss how procedures around integrity and the prevention of gambling related harm can be improved if necessary.”
The FA introduced rules in 2014 that banned all football related betting by anyone involved in football. Barton, who stated during the FA regulatory commission disciplinary proceedings that he gambled because of an addiction, commented during the investigation that he believed he was permitted to bet on football as long as “you weren’t playing in the game” and “it wasn’t your team.”