Bolton Wanderers have backed a bid to end gambling sponsorship and advertising in sport, becoming the latest club to officially endorse the national campaign.
Spearheaded by the Against the Odds Charter, the initiative is aimed at not just helping improve gambling awareness but bringing an end to associated sponsorships in football and sport altogether.
The club expressed their support for the movement in a statement on Tuesday, 18 October, remarking: “In Greater Manchester, sport is central to the region’s culture, heritage and identity and plays a huge role in bringing communities together.
“Unfortunately, there has been a proliferation of gambling sponsorship and advertising in sport which is reinforcing a perception that betting is a normal part of watching sport.”
They go on to explain that the overarching goal is to “shine a light on the prevalence of gambling” throughout sporting pyramids across the UK, in the hope of ultimately “phasing out gambling sponsorship and advertising to protect children, young people, and vulnerable adults.”
Footballing bodies, gambling awareness campaigners and concerned fans alike have been calling for such action for years now, with numerous petitions set up before the government finally put forward the bill to bring in tougher regulations.
Against the Odds campaign lead Michael Viggars criticised the copy and paste ‘gamble responsibly’ sentiment, arguing that it lacks sincerity when “every square inch of sports stadia [is] being sold to advertise dozens of different sports betting brands”.
However, as many in political, sporting and public spheres have pointed out, gambling addiction is a serious illness and profit should never come before health and wellbeing.
Like Viggars, James Grimes of The Big Step – a similar anti-gambling in sport organisation – says that moving to Manchester helped him break free from a “12-year gambling addiction” and hopes that Bolton’s backing will see other big clubs follow suit and place themselves “on the right side of history”.
At present, these are the EFL and non-league clubs that have joined the campaign to end gambling sponsorships in English football:
To put into facts and figures, research by campaigners suggests that gambling logos can appear more than 700 times in a single football match – that’s about six logos every minute – on kits, training gear, on perimeter advertising hoardings, dugouts, press backdrops and more.
Moreover, they estimate that around 1 in 200 people in Greater Manchester (around 14,000 adults) are suffering from “severe gambling harms”, i.e. more people than the capacity of Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park.
3.8% of the region’s population are considered to be low to moderate risk, which equates to over 96,000 adults in Greater Manchester alone – more than the capacity of the Etihad stadium (55,097), Old Trafford Cricket Ground (26,000) and Sale Sharks’ AJ Bell Stadium (12,000) combined.
Bolton Chairman Sharon Brittan said: “Gambling addiction can have a devastating effect on individuals and their families and communities, and that’s why Bolton Wanderers Football Club is pledging our formal support of the pioneering Against the Odds campaign by signing their charter.”
Previously sponsored by the likes of Betfred, the club knows all about the dangers of betting on a local and national scale, making the decision to close their on-site betting facilities at the UniBol Stadium back in 2021 and promise to avoid any new commercial partnerships within the gambling industry.
Here’s hoping this is just the start.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with gambling addiction, you can use vital resources such as GamCare, the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) Gamblers Anonymous UK, or just get in touch with the NHS directly for more information.
Featured Image — Bolton Wanderers (via Twitter)
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott ‘working on plans’ to screen England vs France game at AO Arena gig
Paul Heaton has said that he’s ‘working on plans’ to screen the England vs France World Cup match ahead of his gig in Manchester this weekend.
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott are set to play a huge gig at the AO Arena this Saturday – clashing with England’s quarter finals game.
Paul has said that they understand fans ‘might prefer not to miss the youthful looks of Jack Grealish’.
His announcement that they are hoping to show the game has drawn a mixed reaction from fans.
Many welcomed the news that they wouldn’t have to miss the huge match from the Qatar World Cup.
But others said that it would ruin the show, with one person tweeting: “Please don’t ruin the show with that. I’ll be wanting my money back if I’m going to see football rather than the music!”
Paul replied to say: “We won’t. We just have to make sure the place isn’t half full.”
He has now gone on to address the divided opinions on the football being screened at the AO Arena, sharing a photo of himself pulling a silly face with the words: “Me trying to work out what to do next Saturday @England @AOArena.”
Many fans have pointed out that Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott aren’t actually due on stage until 9pm and that, all being well, the game will be over by then anyway.
Others have pleaded that they don’t cut the show short to fit it in around the England vs France game, and wondered what it would mean for Billy Bragg’s supporting slot.
Jacqui Abbott hasn’t been able to perform with the group for the last few shows due to ill health, but it’s hoped she’ll be back on stage with her former The Beautiful South bandmate by the time they gig in Manchester.
The duo offered refunds to anyone who no longer wanted to attend the concerts without Jacqui after she was told to sit them out on doctor’s orders.
But Paul added: “For those who choose to retain their tickets for the next three shows, I promise you that myself & the boys will put on a show to remember. We’ll sorely miss Jacqui but our intent is to make those who refund their tickets bitterly regret that decision. Thanks for your support.”
The pair were on the receiving end of a lot of praise from members of the public after announcing the tour, and capping ticket prices at £30.
They went on BBC Breakfast to speak about rising costs in the music industry while promoting their new album.
He said at the time: “I’m very much against greed in the industry. I feel as though there is quite a lot. We are trying to just battle and say ‘we’ll do it for as low as we can’.”
They also said they want to ‘set a bit of an example’ for the rest of the industry.
Featured image: Publicity picture
Gary Neville is taking The Overlap Live on tour with Roy Keane, Jamie Carragher and more
Gary Neville’s The Overlap has quickly become one of the most popular sports podcasts in the UK and now they’re taking the hit Sky Sports show on the road.
The Overlap Live Tour was announced on Monday, 5 December, revealing four massive live shows across the UK and Ireland in 2023, featuring go-to guests Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane and more.
Due to high demand, a fourth show in Dublin was added to the list of dates which will no doubt please everyone’s favourite irritable Irishman.
The sports discussion podcast and YouTube show gives exclusive insights into some of Britain’s greatest athletes and a behind-the-scenes look at their lives outside of the sporting area.
While Neville and co. have held standalone live shows and fan debates before in the likes of London and Manchester, this is the first official Overlap Tour, with the run ending at O2 Apollo Manchester on 8 June.
Regular host Josh Denzel and Sky Sports’Monday Night Football presenter Kelly Cates will be joining them on their Overlap Live trip around the UK next year.
Used to heated discussion and no-holds-barred opinions, Gary said: “The reaction to the Wembley show has been brilliant so we are delighted to be able to confirm three new dates… It’s fair to say these will be lively shows and I think all three of us know exactly what we are in for!
“As with the Wembley show we’ll be opening up to questions throughout the night, which we might live to regret, but it should be interesting to say the least – particularly for me and Roy in Liverpool! Seriously though, these will all be great nights – so join us if you like!”