Bolton Wanderers end any association with gambling as football betting sponsorship ban looms

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 File photo dated 11-08-2018 of a general view of the University of Bolton Stadium. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday April 3, 2019. Bolton face another day in the High Court trying to stave off a winding-up petition from HM Revenue and Customs for £1.2million in unpaid tax and other debts. - PA
File photo dated 11-08-2018 of a general view of the University of Bolton Stadium. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday April 3, 2019. Bolton face another day in the High Court trying to stave off a winding-up petition from HM Revenue and Customs for £1.2million in unpaid tax and other debts. - PA

Bolton Wanderers have cut all ties with betting firms ahead of a likely Government clampdown on gambling sponsorship in football. The League One club's chair, Sharon Brittan, issued a statement acknowledging "problem gambling ruins lives" as Bolton became the first EFL club to take such an overt position.

Telegraph Sport disclosed in January how the Government was likely to rid football of betting sponsors on shirts. One leading anti-gambling campaigner believes ministers are also toying with new restrictions on stadium hoardings and TV adverts too.

Ahead of a white paper set to be published this winter, Bolton took matters into their own hands, ruling out any on-site betting provision at the stadium. The club also vowed to avoid any new commercial partnerships and sponsorships with firms representing the gambling industry.

“Problem gambling ruins lives and we’ve taken this stance to show our support for those who are suffering from a betting addiction,” said Brittan.

The EFL is sponsored by a betting company but Bolton’s chief executive Neil Hart said the club would not be participating in any promotion outside of their existing obligations.

Meanwhile, the soon-to-be-published fan-led review of football is set to recommend abandoning the ban on fans drinking beer while watching matches.

Allowing National League and League Two venues to serve alcohol could ease the pressure on lower league clubs and help tackle pre-game binge drinking, the MP chairing the review believes.

A pilot allowing pints to be served mid-match for the first time in 36 years should be considered because "our view on alcohol and football is outdated", Tracey Crouch told The Times.

In explaining her decision to rule out gambling sponsors, Brittan cited research showing up to 1.4 million British adults and at least 60,000 youngsters between 11 and 16 who are addicted. “We as an industry must do more and through our work with Bolton Wanderers in the Community, Bolton Wanderers Football Club will support outreach programmes for those who experience gambling problems," she said.

Hart added: “We recognise that some people do want to bet and also that the league has a commercial partnership with a gambling company in place and we are respectful of this.

“However, we will not take part in any activity to promote gambling outside the existing EFL contractual requirements.”

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