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Boris Johnson has been chastised by Peter Shilton for rejecting his requests for a ban on betting companies sponsoring football jerseys.
As it prepares to publish a White Paper later this month, the Government is thought to be considering "watering down" measures to restrict gambling advertising in football. Shilton, a self-confessed gambling addict, wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron in September and hand-delivered his letter to Downing Street, begging the government to take action.
Shilton claims he has yet to receive a response, despite the support of former England teammate Gary Lineker, and is growing increasingly afraid that the Government is likely to back down. "The fact we didn't receive any form of response is extremely disheartening," Shilton, England's record cap holder, told Mirror Sport. Gary Lineker is behind us, he's backed us, and you've got two former footballers weighing in, you'd think that merited a response.
"We sent the letter in September and are disappointed that we have yet to receive a response." The White Paper was initially expected in December, and you're wondering why it's been delayed."
Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith has insisted he will “go to war” with the Government if there is a U-turn amid concerns the economy would suffer with an advertising ban and that may have dissuaded Ministers from a stronger clampdown. They may now look to compromise on establishing a levy imposed on betting firms with discussions still ongoing but the Government review looks likely to be less forceful than originally anticipated.
Stilton, 72, who lost millions in a 45-year gambling addiction, including £800,000 to a single bookmaker, believes more has to be done to address the issue as advertising glamourizes gambling. "Certainly, for youngsters seeing betting advertisements on clothing, it does glamourize gambling," he continued. There needs to be a lot more work done on advertising, but prohibiting shirt sponsorship would be a major step. The industry need stricter control.
“That’s always been our biggest thing. I’d be very disappointed if that didn’t happen. But there also needs to be a look at all things in the betting industry and protecting addicts and families of addicts. It seems to be dragging on now and people are wondering what’s happening now. You hear stories and rumours and if money is the issue then it would be very poor because this is a bigger issue than a short term monetary gain with what’s gone on.”
Last season, nine of the 20 top flight clubs had gambling shirt sponsorship, Crystal Palace recently announced they were changing from a betting firm to car company Cinch. The Premier League has been part of discussions and they have questioned whether a ban would actually impact on the dangers of gambling.
Any firm which does sponsor clubs must sign a Memorandum of Understanding which includes strict rules on no gambling on under-18s football and sharing information on gambling rules being broken.