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Forest Green Rovers back campaign to ban gambling ads in football

League Two football team Forest Green Rovers have become the first professional club in England to call for an end to all gambling promotion in football, partnering with the national campaign the Big Step, part of the charity Gambling With Lives.

A vital moment

Second division English football team Forest Green Rovers, which has historically refused to take on gambling sponsorships, has thrown its support behind the Big Step campaign.

Part of the Gambling with Lives charity, the Big Step was founded to raise awareness of football’s growing dependence on gambling and calls for an end to sponsorship promotion and advertising of gambling in football. Charity Gambling with Lives offers support to families who have lost loves ones because of betting addiction.

Big Step founder James Grimes said: “We’re delighted to have the support of Forest Green Rovers. This is a vital moment to secure meaningful gambling reform in the UK”.

Need to change the law

This support comes as the sports betting sponsorships fall under increasing public and political scrutiny.

“Our outdated gambling laws need to change […] Sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies is banned and we believe gambling should be the same”, said Grimes.

The desire to end gambling advertising is also political as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pledged to ban gambling ads on the London Underground if re-elected.

Can football clubs survive without gambling sponsorship?  

Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince OBE added: “It’s like gambling has taken over football.  If you watch a game on TV you are inundated with ads. This is an abuse of football and of football fans.”

Eight of 20 Premier League teams have gambling sponsorships on their shirts, and 10 of 24 in the Championship.

Talking to the BBC, Rick Parry, English Football League Chairman, said that a ban would cost clubs £40m a season and could see some go under.

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