The premier league should jump before it is pushed

The premier league should jump before it is pushed

This Tuesday, the barons of English football met in an undisclosed location for one of their once-in-a-while shareholders meetings, which according to reports included some rather striking ideas for a new deal for football.

It is thought that this is a grand bargain between the lower league and the premier league, as well as a big old bash at the house of new owner Todd Boehly.

I was wondering if there was something in there about the voluntary betting shirt sponsorship ban. It was reported last week that there was enough support for such a ban, subject to a transition period and certain conditions, to pass the necessary 14-vote threshold.

The can is being kicked down the road.

While the machinations of the big clubs are a bit of a black box, it is probably the case that the clubs delayed the vote until the autumn to see what the political landscape looked like.

The fate of the Gambling Act review has never been less certain, with the race for Conservative leader narrowing to just the more pro-industry Rishi Sunak vs the more skeptical Liz Truss.

The anti-industry lobby seems to think that a delay means a more watered down white paper, but the political betting markets seem to think that Truss is the easy favourite.

With the league unsure of who will be prime minister this time next year, the industry is once again waiting to see what happens next.

The half-time break is over.

This could turn out to be a mistake. The nature of regulation in the UK will be shaped by entities such as the Premier League, who are active participants in the drama of gambling reform.

In a few months when the white paper is released, what has for too long been a parochial discussion will become the center of a robust national conversation that will happen at pubs and at the dinner table.

If the industry can demonstrate that it is willing to make concessions, that it can self-regulate, that it doesn’t need the state to use its power to enforce a degree of social responsibility, the louder it will be.

It’s better to make small concessions than big ones.

There are small potatoes.

Because it is not Bet365, or Paddy Power, or any other large household names on the front of the shirt, it is usually a brand targeting unregulated markets in Asia.

Football shirt sponsorships are one of the most visible manifestations of gambling in the UK so it is not surprising that it is often the aspect of gambling reform which garners the most media and public attention, but by any measure it is small potatoes compared to genuinely damaging reforms that have been proposed.

In comparison to the online gambling industry in the UK, the sums being talked about in the premier league are in the millions.

There is another side of the coin.

If the government and the public are in an unforgiving mood in a year or so, they have the tools at their disposal to cut deep grooves into the sector. What will happen to recreational bettors who have to submit bank statements and proof of income in order to gamble?

In the Italian, Spanish or Belgian markets, should there be even more comprehensive advertising controls? In markets like Romania, the state could use its purse strings to introduce taxes that were not feasible.

The industry in the UK has an enormous degree of agency in what it eventually looks like, because there is some kind of gambling reform that is going to take place.

To put it into its own language, the sector should be willing to put up a small stake to win.

Summary:

Premier League clubs have delayed a vote on a ban on betting shirt sponsorships until the autumn to see what the political landscape looked like. Last week, it was reported that there was enough support for such a ban, subject to a transition period and certain conditions, to pass the necessary 14-vote threshold.