English FA Terminates Ladbrokes Sponsorship Deal Worth £4m a Year
The Football Association has ended its partnership with Ladbrokes and will not be signing a new betting partner.
The decision comes after widespread criticism about how the sport’s lucrative sponsorship deal, worth around £4m per year, was restricting its willingness to tackle gambling addiction issues within the game.
The football governing body conducted a three-month review into how appropriate betting company deals were in conjunction with its stance on banning individuals. The FA strictly punishes any individual within the sport connected with gambling on football matches. Ex-Burnley player and vocal Twitter user Joey Barton, who is currently serving an 18-month ban for gambling offences, appears to have gotten the ball rolling. The Liverpool-born midfielder placed 1,260 bets on matches between 2006 and 2013, including games in which he played. Barton accused the FA of hypocrisy and referenced the Ladbrokes deal, which still had three of its four-years left to run, in the aftermath of his ban in April 2017.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Barton claimed that betting companies are buying compliance from the English game.
Do the FA not understand that’s hush money [the Ladbrokes deal]? Because if they don’t do it to Ladbrokes, they can’t do it to Betfair, Paddy Power, William Hill.– Joey Barton on Twitter
Martin Glenn, FA chief executive, said: “We would like to thank Ladbrokes for both being a valued partner over the last year and for their professionalism and understanding about our change of policy around gambling.”
The decision will likely continue to fuel speculation surrounding the issue of major betting partners in football. When the 2017/2018 season kicks off in August, more than half of the teams in the English Premier League will be sponsored by betting companies or online casinos.
English football’s second to fourth tiers, collectively grouped under the EFL body, said the FA’s decision will not impact its own sponsorship with SkyBet. The deal with the Leeds-based company, which owns Sky Bet, Sky Vegas, Sky Casino, Sky Poker and Sky Bingo, has been in place since the 2013-14 season. A spokesperson for the EFL told The Guardian: “The EFL is of the firm belief that there is no conflict in having a commercial relationship with the gaming industry, as it is the FA who have the ultimate responsibility of enforcing any breach of the existing betting rules that all those who participate in our competitions have to adhere to.”