Richard Masters, Interim Chief Executive of the Premier League, has told BBC Sports’ Dan Roan that he believes betting attracts people to football and has in turn become part of the game.
The revelation comes shortly after Wayne Rooney’s controversial transfer to Derby County, involving betting company 32Red, which concluded with the former England captain being given the number 32 jersey – drawing criticism from sports minister Nigel Adams in the process:
“The No 32 shirt is a very crafty move by Derby,” said Adams. “I would ask them to look within themselves and think about the impact that problem gambling can have on some in society, particularly vulnerable people and youngsters.”
When questioned on the relationship between the Premier League and betting, Masters stated: “Our football clubs have had relationships with betting companies for a long time. There are guardrails with how those relationships can be activated and our clubs adhere to those very carefully.
“We also have betting rules in place and lots of integrity measures to protect the competition. We ourselves, the Premier League, do not have a relationship with a betting company.”
As things stand, half of all Premier League clubs have front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with gambling companies, while in the Championship, Huddersfield Town were the subject of a Paddy Power publicity stunt which has since landed the club in hot water with the FA.
Masters’ comments are just the latest in a summer which has been strife with questions over the relationship between football and betting.
The interim chief executive concluded: “I don’t think we’re at a position yet where we’re concerned we have to intervene and nor does the government. Betting is part of what brings people into football, it’s only a small part of it but it is part of the game.”