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FA ends sponsorships with betting firms as it looks to move beyond gambling controversy

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By Tony Connelly | Sports Marketing Reporter

June 22, 2017 | 5 min read

The Football Association (FA) has announced it will end all sponsorship deals with betting companies, including terminating its long-term deal with Ladbrokes.

The decision follows a three-month review into the governing body's relationship with gambling firms in light of a series of incidents involving betting by individuals directly involved in the sport.

Wembley Stadium

The FA has cut all sponsorship ties with betting companies starting next season

In June last year the FA signed a long-term deal with Ladbrokes to become its official betting partner following a similar agreement with William Hill.

The FA said in a statement: “At the May FA board meeting it was agreed that the FA would end all sponsorships with betting companies starting from the end of the 2016-17 season. The decision was made following a three month review of the FA’s approach to it as a governing body taking betting sponsorship, whilst being responsible for the regulation of sports betting within the sport’s rules.

“As a consequence the FA has mutually agreed with Ladbrokes that its current partnership with the FA will be terminated from June 2017. The FA will continue to work with betting companies, including Ladbrokes, as they play a key role in sharing information on suspect betting patterns and so help in regulating the game.”

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Martin Glenn, chief executive of the FA, thanked Ladbrokes for its "professionalism and understanding" on the decision to part ways.

Jim Mullen, chief executive of Ladbrokes Coral Group, commented: "We understand the FA's decision regarding their commercial partnerships on gambling."

He added that the company would continue to work with the FA "to ensure the integrity and trust of the sport is maintained".

A spokesperson for William Hill issued a statement to The Drum saying: “Commercial ties between betting companies and football are a fact of life and far from causing integrity issues can lead to stronger and more coordinated approaches to integrity. This was an expensive deal for Ladbrokes at the outset and it may well suit both parties to go their own ways at this stage.”

Last month, FA chairman, Greg Clarke, revealed that the FA was considering cutting ties with betting companies. He stressed the decision is not linked to the recent Joey Barton case in which the Burnley player was found to have placed 1,260 bets on matches – including at least five that he played in. The player was subsequently banned from football for 18 months.

The case involving Barton just one of several high-profile incidents which have raised serious questions about the relationship between football and gambling.

In February, an FA Cup tie between Arsenal and Sutton United grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons after the non-league side’s reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw scoffed a pastry-based snack on the touchline during the game. He later admitted that he knew Sun Bets had been taking wagers on him doing so.

Betting firms’ presence in football has grown exponentially in recent years to the extent that they have become an integral part of the game. During the 2016/17 season, 10 of the 20 clubs in the Premier League had a betting company has their main shirt sponsor and all 20 have some form of 'official partnership' in place with at least one betting firm.

On top of that, England's three Football League divisions are sponsored by Sky Bet while the Scottish Professional Football League's four tiers, the Scottish Cup and the League Cup are all sponsored by betting companies- Ladbrokes, William Hill and Bet Fred respectively.

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