A third front – the other battle Stoke City are fighting



Stoke City’s owners are currently fighting wars on three fronts.

There’s the battle against relegation on the pitch and against Financial Fair Play off it.

And, almost unnoticed, there is the on-going struggle against those wanting to ban betting firms from having quite so much influence on football in this country.

That resonates nowhere more than Stoke City because of their ownership by the Coates family through their bet365 empire.

The company name is now on the stadium and across the front of all shirts to shine a light on the family company’s generous presence .

Battle lines are being drawn like never before as campaigners have this week delivered a letter to the Prime Minister calling for an end to gambling sponsorship in football.

They are pushing at an open door, by all accounts, and you can bet there will be little sympathy where the Stoke chairman is concerned given his well-documented support of the Labour Party.

But the Government will run into considerable opposition if it does take on football because Stoke are surrounded by clubs relying on gambling sponsorship for valuable income.

Stoke are one of 17 clubs in the 24-club Championship with a gambling firm as its main shirt sponsor, while in the Premier League, where the game’s real power lies of course, the figure is 10 of their 20 clubs.

Back in 2004/05 there was just one club in the top two divisions with a shirt sponsored by a gambling company; 10 years ago that figure had risen to 12; today that figure is 27.

As for the value of that sponsorship, in the Premier League revenue from such sources totalled £13m in 2012/13, but was up to £68.6m in 2019/20.

Such are the stakes were the Government to take on the clubs and go against the Conservative principle of trading free from state intervention.

You suspect there must be some kind of compromise to be had and, perhaps, the Government is merely threatening to apply pressure so as to extract more concessions from the gambling industry when it comes to where, when  and how it advertises.

If not, if Boris and Co really do want to make a moral stance and take on the powerful footballing lobby, then clubs like Stoke City really do have something to worry about.

And campaigners, like it or not, have claimed the moral high ground.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *