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Ex-FA chief executive condemns gambling sponsorships in football

The Football Association’s (FA) former chief executive Mark Palios has affirmed his stance to decrease gambling sponsorships in football.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Palios explained why he refuses to accept gambling sponsorships at Tranmere Rovers, a club he chairs, and how the relationship between football and the betting industry has gone ‘too far’.

The ex-FA boss stated: “This (Tranmere) is a family club that’s firmly rooted in the community and from our perspective it’s the wrong thing to do to get associated with the gambling industry. We can’t change the bigger picture in terms of the football industry being involved to the extent it is but from a personal perspective that’s what we do.

“Football has to wean itself off the position it is in at the moment – and that’s the best verb I can use. It’s certainly gone too far.”

Gambling sponsorships in football has recently become a major topic of debate by spectators, businesses and the government, with a Gambling Act review currently ongoing.

Palios added: “I see gambling as something that is pernicious. People get hooked into it and it is a hidden addiction.

“You see people stealing from their employers as we’ve seen and it destroys relationships and fundamentally damages family units and family units are a massive part of the community.”

Betting brand sponsorships in football has grown year on year with 60% of clubs in England’s top two leagues having partnerships with gambling companies. The English Football League (EFL), which runs the country’s second, third and fourth divisions, also has a major sponsorship agreement with Sky Bet.

An EFL spokesman emphasised: “The EFL itself continues to have a successful relationship with Sky Bet who, as a responsible, properly regulated bookmaker, recognise the importance of having the right safeguards in place.”

Palios’ statements follows Nigel Huddleston’s appointment as minister for sport, tourism and heritage. The conservative MP, a vocal supporter of last year’s fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) maximum stake reduction, has also previously expressed his concerns over the betting industry’s involvement in sport.

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