A month after it was revealed that EFL teams were getting discounts from fans’ gambling losses through an arrangement with Sky Bet, a group of MPs asked the European Football Association to end the partnership. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
cross the line
Several MPs have sent a memo to the English Football League (EFL) calling for it to end its long-running partnership with Sky Bet after it was revealed that its clubs were profiting from gambling losses.
“The last straw in a relationship that clearly crossed the line”
The letter was addressed to Rick Barry, president of the English Football League. Inside, he said the revelation was “the last straw in a relationship that clearly went away” and that “immediate action” was needed.
The English Premier League also took an active part in the battles between sports and gambling companies. Depending on how the situation plays out between the Premier League and the government, there could be resounding overlapping effects.
EFL teams won from gambling losses
The English Football League consists of the Championship, League One, and League Two, which are considered from the second to fourth levels in the English football hierarchy. The English Premier League is the best dog.
However, this does not mean that the EFL is not very strong and influential among fans.
Under the deal between Sky and EFL, the teams received a portion of the gambling losses incurred by their supporters through an “affiliate partnership”. This meant that although teams would suffer economic hardship during periods of loss due to a lack of ticket and merchandise sales, they were still profiting on the backs of their fans.
Certain teams continued to receive ‘old’ payments
That arrangement was scrapped three years ago after being agreed to for six years, but some teams continued to receive “legacy” payments, the Premier League revealed. These teams will continue to receive benefits until 2024 when the league’s current deal with Sky expires.
The letter was signed by Liberal Democrat Lord Foster of Bath, former Cabinet Minister and Chairman of Peer Gambling Reform, and Labor MPs Sir George Howarth, Rebecca Long Bailey, Dan Cardin, Zara Sultana, Kim Johnson and Ronnie Kwan. of the Scottish National Party.
“With the huge amount of gambling winnings coming from a small percentage of clients, we know how much of that money will come from addiction, from devastated families and from those who have lost their lives to gambling,” the letter says. “As a group of parliamentarians fully committed to preventing harm from gambling, we were shocked to discover that fans are being exploited in this way.”
Government intervention on the horizon
The FA has not issued a statement on the matter since last month when it simply said the league had placed more emphasis on safer gambling.
The group of government figures are not trying to punish or frustrate footballers, but they do want to see accountability from the Football Association.
Termination of any old payments to EFL clubs from the deal with Sky Bet
“We are not asking clubs to repay any financial benefit from this harmful arrangement, nor are we trying to prevent fans from betting on football,” the letter read. “We urgently request this from the EFL: 1. Terminate any old payments to EFL clubs from the transaction with Sky Bet to take advantage of gambling losses. 2. Terminate the EFL’s partnership with Sky Bet when it is due to renew in 2024 and not be replaced by another gambling partner.”
Government figures are now calling on the Premier League to reveal whether it has had any similar deals with gambling companies. This comes at a time when the law is already facing pressure to end all sponsorship of gambling between teams.
This issue adds to the growing list of problems seeking a solution from anyone who emerges as the UK’s next prime minister. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to hear a white paper on the matter but eventually resigned before it arrived, while Liz Truss showed no interest in the matter but also left the post after resigning earlier this week, after just 45 days from her jurisdiction.