Peter Shilton backs campaign to end gambling advertising in football
By Tess de la Mare, PA
Goalkeeper Peter Shilton has joined calls for an end to gambling advertising and sponsorship of football.
England’s most-capped player is lending his support to families who have lost loved ones to gambling-related suicide.
Shilton and his wife Steph joined campaigners to hand in a petition to 10 Downing Street demanding restrictions on gambling advertising.
The petition attracted 12,000 signatures including former England star turned pundit Gary Lineker.
It was launched by The Big Step campaign – part of the Gambling with Lives charity – which is working to ban gambling advertising from football.
The Shiltons launched their own campaign, the Soccer Shirt Gambling Ban, earlier this year in a bid to remove all gambling marketing from the pitch.
The former player, who represented England 125 times, revealed last year that he battled a gambling addiction for 45 years.
The couple have said their campaign is calling on football to take a stance and “end their conspiracy of silence” to protect the public.
The campaigners say that gambling advertising and sponsorship in football normalises the activity, and draws first-time gamblers in.
According to analysis by Gambling with Lives and The Big Step, only two of the 20 premier league clubs did not have a gambling partner or sponsor at the beginning of the 2021/22 season.
They found gambling brands and logos can appear more than 700 times during a single match, and would be visible up to 89% of the time while watching Match Of The Day.
Research suggests there are between 250 and 650 gambling-related suicides in the UK each year, the charities found.
It is believed those who have a gambling addiction are up to 15 times more likely to take their own lives than those who do not.
There are currently up to 1.4 million adults addicted to gambling the UK, along with 55,000 children, the campaigners said.
Shilton said: “It is time for everyone to make a stand. We must protect children and the vulnerable.
“Morally we don’t believe there is any justification in advertising gambling in football, especially on the shirts”
James Grimes, founder of The Big Step and a former gambling addict, said: “Football’s toxic relationship with gambling is turning a generation of young fans into gamblers, and many of them will experience harms including addiction and suicide – this must stop.
“It’s now time for the government to act on this petition by ending gambling advertising and sponsorship in football.”
The Government completed a review of the 2005 Gambling Act earlier this year.
A white paper is due to be published in early 2022 next year.