Preston North End urged to make Big Step in reviewing sponsorship by gambling firm

Preston North End has been asked to review its choice shirt sponsor, as part of a major new charity challenge.

By Catherine Musgrove
Thursday, 13th June 2019, 3:17 pm
The group set off from Manchester City's stadium
The group set off from Manchester City's stadium

The Big Step will see 10 men, led by recovering gambling addict 28-year-old James Grimes, walking 124 miles in 90 hours from Manchester City to Manchester United - via six other northern clubs who have gambling companies as their main shirt sponsors.

The other clubs are Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Burnley, Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers.

The group wants to raise money for Gambling with Lives and to raise awareness of the dangers of gambling.

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Callum Robinson wearing the club's home shirt, sponsored by 32Red

The group will be asking clubs to review their relationship with gambling sponsorship and think about what they can do to help their fans who are suffering from or at risk of developing major gambling problems.

James said: “We recognise that gambling sponsorship is important for many clubs, but we believe that the relationship has tipped too far and is at risk of causing major problems for some and ruining the enjoyment of the game for many.

"This season has confirmed once again what a brilliant and entertaining sport football is, it doesn’t need wall to wall betting to make it exciting and thrilling.

"We believe that if football clubs themselves don’t act, then it is likely that government and regulators will step in to curb the influence of gambling. Football is big enough tobe able to sort itself out.”

Deepdale Stadium, sponsored by 32Red

Ideas the group have for clubs to do include:

- Having problem gambling advisers available at stadium on all match days

- No gambling logos on children/under-16 sized kit

- Problem gambling awareness messaging around the ground

- Whistle to whistle ban on gambling advertising in the ground

- Promoting problem gambling support and treatment services

This season, nine out of 20 Premier League clubs and 17 out of 24 Championship clubs have gambling companies as their main shirt sponsors. Most grounds have gamblingadvertising on the pitch side hoardings as well as throughout the stadium.

Preston North End signed a two-year deal with 32Red in June 2018.

The club was unavailable for comment on The Big Step, but in February said it has no plans to review advertising policies, after South Ribble Council also raised concerns about sponsorship and pitch-side advertising.

>>>Click here to read the report on the council's action plan

The walk will get to Deepdale for 7pm on Sunday, June 16.