Betting brands are the enemy on sport shirts, not crisp logos

PUBLISHED: 18:13 10 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:13 10 October 2019

Both Norwich City and Aston Villa carried betting company logos on their shirts during last Saturday's Premier League game

Both Norwich City and Aston Villa carried betting company logos on their shirts during last Saturday's Premier League game

Paul Chesterton

Rachel Moore says sport shirts advertising crisps are nothing worried about compared to those promoting gambling

A fat-fear tizz unleashed this week when it emerged that cricket shirts to be worn by players in a new tournament aimed at making the game (elite whatever anyone says) more attractive to the hoi polloi were emblazoned by logos of Hula Hoops and KP nuts.

So enraged were the fat police about sports sponsorship deals that encourage "our kids to fill up with snacks and junk food, the NHS chief executive, no less, lambasted it from the stage of the NHS Providers conference.

Poor diet is now a bigger health threat than smoking, Simon Stevens, said from the stage, urging the English Cricket Board to reconsider sponsorship of The Hundred tournament, designed to make cricket more inclusive.

He's clearly never seen the parents' 'picnics' at youth cricket matches. Hula Hoops, McCoy's, Skips, Butterkist and Popchips are the least worry in a festival of processed meat and fizzy drinks.

And cricket teas, increasingly victim to the competitive mums' 'best spread' narcissism, would never pass the healthy diet test. A super-point scoring chocolate fountain has even been known to make an appearance at a club's third team game.

The idea though that branding shirts with cheap snacks might make cricket more appealing to state-school children is insulting to those state-school children and families.

An ECB spokesman said it wanted more people to discover cricket and that snack brands "have a long history of partnering with sports to promote participation and drive a message of balance around diet and activity across their large audiences".

Discovering cricket is one thing, staying with it is another. The game - too long the preserve of private-school children and those with parents well-off enough to invest in the badge of private coaching that has infiltrated clubs' youth section - simply needs to be more welcoming and accommodating to everyone.

Obesity is a problem that can't be ignored, but a far bigger health issue than Hula Hoop overindulgence is gambling sponsorship of national sport and its long-term effect of addiction.

The UK gambling industry has openly stated its ambition to become a 'world leader' in online gambling. Hardly a noble ambition that one

Gambling ruins life, like drugs and alcohol.

But it has become normalised to young people - and threatens far more devastating effects on their mental health and futures than crisps and popcorn.

Gambling has sharp-elbowed its way into everyday life and its multiple brand names are as well known across the generations as supermarket brands.

Half our Premier League football teams are sponsored by gambling companies, with shirts emblazoned with gambling logos, raking clubs in a record £349.1m this season, 10pc more than last year.

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Think how many people - children and young people - are passionate about football. They watch their teams - wear their team's shirts - plastered with advertising for gambling, i.e. chucking money away.

As wealthy clubs get wealthier, the effect of normalising betting has caused about 430,000 people to now be experiencing problems with gambling, according to the Gambling Commission.

There is increasing evidence of a link between problem gambling and stress, depression and other mental health issues.

Marc Etches, head of the GambleAware charity, which contributed to the Gambling Commission's National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, said: "Gambling is a serious public health issue in Britain with two million adults suffering some level of gambling-related harm, and for a few, gambling addiction ends in suicide.

More needs to be done, he said.

"Addiction can ruin lives and it is vital that those who need help are given the right treatment at the right time."

So, less panicking about the effects of crisps and more focus on the devastating effects of the normalisation of gambling, please.

A ban on all gambling sponsors of sport is the only way to turn the tide and address a mounting issue.

Gambling encourages recklessness. There is no such thing as responsible gambling.

What used to be furtive - men sneaking off into the blacked-out windows of fag-smoke-logged betting shops on a Saturday afternoon - is now glamorised.

Anyone can bet at any time on mobile phones, always with us. Online betting is the crack cocaine of gambling. What starts with an occasional flutter on a Saturday football match escalates to every day, more and more, and strangling debt.

Because it's online, it doesn't feel real; not real money. But this virtual reality click of a bet is very real when credit card statements for tens of thousands of pounds turn up.

Evidence has linked gambling to suicide and the full consequences of online gambling have yet to be fully understood because it is relatively new.

Chronic gamblers have lost everything, their addiction starting with innocuous Saturday bets with friends to a full-on addiction on online slot machines and losing everything.

Bingo and online gaming are drawing in more women, some telling of £70,000 debts.

The Gambling Commission is currently considering banning online betting with credit cards but until it does, people are sinking into real trouble.

The effects of gambling can be deadly. Far more deadly than Hula Hoop addiction. Let's get some perspective and demand action.

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