The Premier League -the top level of the English football league system- has postponed a scheduled vote on a voluntary ban on shirt sponsorships by gambling companies , local media reports. The move comes as the political crisis in Westminster, driven by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation, threatens to delay industry reforms.
Sources cited by the BBC said The Premier League was seeking clubs’ support for a voluntary ban that would see betting companies disappear from teams’ shirts within the next three years. Under the proposal, a voluntary prohibition would come into effect at the start of the coming season, but would contemplate existing deals and the continuity of their courses, providing they expired no later than the 2024-25 campaign.
The League’s 20 top-flight clubs, including Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United had requested to vote on the measure. For its approval, 14 clubs were required to vote in favor of the motion.
The ban was initially intended to be permanent, but it would be subject to a clause allowing it to be overturned with two years’ notice in certain circumstances. The proposals will be discussed at a previously scheduled shareholder meeting on July 26, according to club executives.
The League had allegedly entered into negotiations with the government, suggesting to DCMS Gambling Minister Chris Philp, who left office Thursday, that front-of-shirt sponsor could be removed, but logos on sleeves could remain. The Minister was said to be considering the idea.
DCMS Gambling Minister Chris Philp
The new delay in the voluntary ban vote comes amid turmoil caused by a mass exodus of Conservative ministers. The minister of gambling resigned alongside dozens of colleagues this week, departures that when there followed by PM Boris Johnson's resignation.
Philp had been due to unveil a White Paper on gambling reform, which sought to update the 2005 Gambling Act to better fit the industry after the rise of online gaming. A resolution on the shirt sponsorship ban for the Premier League was also to be included in the document. Nonetheless, its prohibition remains a possibility.
As reported by Sky News, an industry source stated the delay might be interpreted as an attempt by anti-gambling campaigners to exploit the crisis which has engulfed Johnson and his administration.
The issue is a sensitive one for the English clubs as many of them have become reliant on revenue from the gambling sector. Almost half of them were sponsored by betting companies last season.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur would be the ones to accept the voluntary ban, as none of them had existing shirt sponsorship deals with gambling companies.
Should the League’s proposal be accepted later this month, the ban may not immediately and completely forbid the gambling industry’s presence at stadiums and on shirts competing in the domestic football tournament, thus potentially angering anti-gambling campaigners.