GAMBLING

UK calls for FA to reconsider betting deal

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport says ‘things have moved on’ since the contract was signed.

In Summary

• The FA has said it will ‘review this element of the media rights sales process ahead of tendering rights from the 2024-25 season’.

• The FA announced it was cutting its ties with gambling firms in July 2017, but this deal was done in January 2017.

Leeds United's Illan Meslier during their FA Cup match against Arsenal
Leeds United's Illan Meslier during their FA Cup match against Arsenal
Image: /REUTERS

The government has called on the Football Association to immediately reconsider its decision to sell FA Cup broadcast rights via a third party to a gambling website.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport says ‘things have moved on’ since the contract was signed.

“I hope they will reconsider,” Nicky Morgan said on Twitter.

Since the start of last season, bookmaker Bet365 has had rights to show FA Cup ties on its website and app. To watch, fans had to place a bet or open an account with a deposit.

The FA has said it will ‘review this element of the media rights sales process ahead of tendering rights from the 2024-25 season’.

Twenty-three third-round matches were available to watch on Bet365 last weekend — all those that did not kick off at 15:01 GMT on Saturday.

The FA announced it was cutting its ties with gambling firms in July 2017, but this deal was done in January 2017.

“The FA agreed a media rights deal with IMG in early 2017, part of which permits them to sell the right to show live footage or clips of FA Cup matches to bookmakers,” it said.

“Bet365 acquired these rights from IMG to use from the start of the 2018-19 season. This deal was agreed before we made a clear decision on the FA’s relationship with gambling companies in June 2017 when we ended our partnership with Ladbrokes.”

Former sports minister Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said she was ‘deeply uncomfortable and disappointed by the sale’.

Crouch, who resigned from her cabinet post in 2018 over delays to a crackdown on the regulation of fixed-odds betting terminals, said the FA had ‘always given the impression that they are conscious of the problems associated with gambling’.

“Given the current challenges of regulating online gambling it will inevitably expose vulnerable people, including children, to gambling ­— something that can lead to long-term problems for society.”

All matches in the FA Cup third round started a minute late as part of the FA’s Heads Up mental health campaign.

According to Bet365, the matches are available to anyone who had placed a bet or put a deposit in their account in the 24 hours before kick-off.

The company’s website says that gamblers are able to watch tennis, basketball, snooker, darts, cricket and squash through its streaming service.