The Bulgaria Football Union (BFU) has publicly stated that it does not support a ban on gambling advertising to be imposed on Bulgarian sports.
A divided National Assembly carries an agenda to reform Bulgaria’s existing gambling laws, in which MPs have been urged to consider a ban on gambling advertising and the privatisation the state-owned Bulgarian Sports Totalisator (BST).
Last week, BFU – the governing body of professional football in Bulgaria – posted a notice on its website warning MPs against the mandate to enforce a blackout of gambling advertising.
The statement read: “The BFU condemns the widespread intentions of the future changes in the law regarding the advertising of gambling and betting companies in our country.
“In Bulgaria, more than two-thirds of the clubs exist thanks to the financing of the gambling industry, and the possible cessation of this source of income will almost certainly mean bankruptcy for most of them.”
The BFU decried political parties supporting an advertising ban as an “attempt to earn political dividends from football” at a time of crisis for the nation.
A General Election looms in Bulgaria, its fifth in two-years as Interim President Rumen Radev failed to form a coalition government as counterparts rejected the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) governing pact.
Less than a week in power, Radev has been given until the end of January to gather support for a ‘BSP union’ or be forced to face an election in March.
The BFU told MPs that its existing relationship with Efbet must be protected as the main sponsor of the Parva Liga (Bulgarian First League), in which the Bulgarian betting group provides direct financial support for 12 local football clubs.
Ivan Vasiliev, President of Lokomotiv Sofia, Bulgaria’s biggest football club lambasted MPs for involving football sponsorships in divisive political affairs, in which consumers could be better protected than by imposing a ban.
Lokomotiv’s President stressed that the club would simply cease to exist if it was left without the support of betting partner Betano.
Urgency is required to form a new government, to tackle the Immediate concerns of inflation, pandemic costs and Bulgaria’s standing in the regional conflict between Russia and Ukraine.