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)
Tributes pour in for Manchester City legend and former chairman Franny Lee
Tributes are being paid to Manchester City legend and former chairman Francis ‘Franny’ Lee CBE, who has passed away aged 79.
The ex-Man City, Bolton Wanderers, Derby County and England star is said to have passed away in the early hours on Monday morning, 2 October, following a long battle with cancer.
Speaking via a club statement, his wife Gill along with children Charlotte, Jonny and Nik said, “He will be sorely missed and would like to thank everyone for their kind words”.
Both Manchester teams led tributes to the British footballing legend, with avid City fan Liam Gallagher and countless others joining in paying their respects.
Franny Lee scored 148 goals in 330 appearances during eight-year City, helping the club win multiple honours during their first periods of success, including the old First Division title back in 1968.
Born in Lancashire and starting out elsewhere in Greater Manchester at Bolton Wanderers, he also went on to play for Derby following his time with the Blues, helping the Rams to their second-ever title in 1975.
The striker also had 27 caps for England between 1968–1972, scoring 10 goals and winning FA Cup, League Cup, European Cup Winners’ Cup and the Charity Shield twice at club level during that period.
Honouring their former centre-forward who went on to serve as Chairman for four years from 1994 onwards, the club statement read, “It is with the deepest sadness and heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of former Manchester City player and Chairman Francis Lee, aged 79”, adding that flags around the Etihad Campus are flying at half-mast.
His first club, Bolton, said of the former marksman, “All at Bolton Wanderers are saddened to learn of the passing of former forward, Francis Lee. The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Francis’ family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time.”
As for legacy as for his time in Blue, the club had already planned to immortalise Lee prior to his death, announcing the erection of a statue back in May 2022, the reveal date of which will no doubt be moved up following his passing.
The club has also assured that “more tributes will follow in the coming days.”
Rest in peace to a legend.
Featured Image — Manchester City/England/Bolton Wanderers (via Twitter)
Michael Bisping announces second ‘Tales From The Octagon’ talk with Manc MMA star Tom Aspinall
UFC legend Michael Bisping is bringing back his hugely popular Tales From The Octagon conversation series and he’s bringing Manc MMA star Tom Aspinall as well as Scottish fighter Paul Craig along for the latest Manchester talk.
Following the success of his first trio of live shows back in 2021 — then marketed simply as ‘An Evening with Michael Bisping’ — the Lancashire-raised fighter has invited along the two fellow Northerners to make this latest event more of a discussion surrounding MMA’s past, present and future.
Despite being born in Cyrpus, Bisping spent most of his life not too far down the road in Clitheroe and has spent a lot of time in Manchester, including winning multiple fights at the AO Arena and even meeting his wife, so there was never any question he’d be bringing the tour back to his second home.
Hosting just two shows this time, one at London’s Indigo at the O2 and the other at the Manchester Apollo, the talk promises stories spanning years inside the Octagon as well as the 44-year-old’s time commentating cage-side since retiring back in 2018.
The second Tales From The Octagon live show will also see the special guests chipping in with plenty of their own “wonderful, hilarious” and exclusive “behind-the-scenes stories” and they provide their own take on the MMA scene at large of today.
Craig, a former light heavyweight champion and Aspinall, a Salford-born heavyweight currently ranked fourth overall in the UFC, will both be joining the expert panel across the two dates this winter, bringing their own funny anecdotes, personal stories and unique takes on their careers and the sport as a whole.
Best of all, like sitting down to watch with a mate who also happens to be a vastly knowledgeable fight fan, Bisping style on stage draws both casual and new fans with the open, informal style, whilst still making sure to entertain the hardcore followers of the sport.
With Aspinall being not only a local lad but one of the UFC rising stars and next in line for a heavyweight, we’re also looking forward to hearing his thoughts on how fast-growing career. Here is Bisping speaking on just how excited he is by the 30-year-old fighter:
Speaking ahead of the two new shows, Bisping said: “The last tour in the UK was epic, I was overwhelmed by the turnout and reaction of my fans old and new. I can’t wait to come back later this year with a new show and with Tom and Paul in tow.”
Given the popularity of these three and the fact the previous tour went down a treat, it’s fair to say seats to sit in on this conversation are going to go fast.
Now branching into acting, running a successful podcast and YouTube channel, not to mention a Sunday Times and Amazon Best Seller thanks to his 2019 autobiography, Quitters Never Wins, you’re getting a real value-for-money showing.
The Tales From The Octagon 2 talk in Manchester takes place on 16 December; tickets start from just £28.50 and you can secure yours HERE.