By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
A major row has broken out between the UK Government and the English Football Association (FA) about the sale by the FA, through the Sports Marketing Group, IMG, of the broadcast rights to the famous FA Cup matches to the websites and apps of seven well-known betting companies:
The granting of these rights comes at a time when the UK Government is under considerable pressure to crack down on a widespread gambling addiction amongst the population, especially young people, several of whom have taken their own lives due to gambling debts. Gambling on sports events is also proving to be a growing social problem elsewhere in Europe and beyond.
These FA Cup matches are available to anyone who has placed a bet or put a deposit in their account in the 24 hours before their kick-off.
The Government is “very angry” about this matter and the Sports Minister, Nigel Adams, is due to meet with the FA next week and will be calling for some immediate action to be taken.
In July 2017, the FA had announced that it was cutting its ties with betting companies, but the IMG deal was made in the previous January.
Brigid Simmonds, who chairs the UK Betting and Gaming Council, stated that her members did not seek exclusivity for the rights to screen FA Cup games, and went on to comment further as follows:
“They are therefore happy for IMG to offer the rights to screen these games to the Football Association or to another appropriate body so that the games can be viewed for free by the public with immediate effect.”
The English FA is often in the sporting headlines, but for the wrong reasons, for example, the UK Government has recently called on the FA to take decisive action against racism in football, and the FA is regarded, in several quarters, as an inept body, which needs reform!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’