The name of the league in which Birmingham City plays, the Sky Bet Championship, indicates the close relationship between betting and football. The 888 on the shirt reinforces the impression. Joey Barton, who was suspended for gambling last year, said that the ban on players betting is hypocritical given the game’s dependence on gambling sponsorship and that half of all players could be breaching the rule anyway. The FA did end its sponsorships with betting companies but they continue to advertise on billboards and players’ shirts.
A recent study showed that 326 gambling-related TV adverts were broadcast during 26 televised football matches over the Christmas period. Justyn Larcombe works for Epic, which aims to help problem gamblers. He said his consultancy is increasingly called into schools to help tackle gambling issues because of how easy it has become to place a bet:
I am concerned about this and agree with David Conn’s recent article and his conclusion that:
“A dangerous culture is being stamped into British sport, that it matters more when there is money on it. Barton’s fall illustrates its power, that even young men who are prohibited by their professional rules from gambling and risk career ruination find it impossible to resist. It is an epidemic and someone needs to get a grip.”
Needless to say, I won’t be betting on the results of the games against Huddersfield and Sunderland. Steve Cotterill has said that he’ll make some changes for the cup game and I hope he will give some the younger players a chance to show what they can do. I’m hoping for a win against Sunderland that will lift us out of the relegation places. I’m feeling bad that I won’t be at that game due to a prior commitment on Tuesday evening; I do hate missing home games.