William Hill

ASA reiterates green light for retired players in William Hill ruling

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of William Hill regarding a tweet from the bookmaker which featured former professional footballer Robbie Savage.

Posted by William Hill on Twitter – now known as X – in February 2023, the tweet contained a video clip of Savage discussing the prospect of Leeds United being relegated from the Premier League to the Championship.

The ASA challenged whether the advert, which also included the William Hill and beGambleAware logos, was in breach of the CAP Code, which bans betting firms from including people in their marketing who may have a strong appeal to young people, such as footballers.

However, in previous rulings the authority has made it clear that retired players who are now more known for their punditry are not subject to this code. 

The most notable example of this saw the ASA rule in favour of Flutter Entertainment’s Paddy Power and Sky Bet brands, which have brand ambassador deals with ex-pros Peter Crouch and Micah Richards respectively.

888 Holdings-owned William Hill made this case too. The ASA explained: “William Hill cited previous ASA rulings where the ASA had accepted that a former professional footballer whose career had ended many years previously did not have strong appeal to children.”

William Hill further added that 48-year old Savage had last played professionally in the domestic leagues for Derby County in 2008 and for England in 2004, and now works primarily in broadcasting for BT Sports Score and BBC Five Live Radio.

The bookmaker further outlined that data showed that under 18s accounted for just 9% of BT Sports Scene, that 10-17 year-olds made up just 4.5% of BBC Five Listeners and finally that only 5% of the studio audience for the latter programme were in the 15-24 age bracket.

In its own assessment, the ASA also acknowledged that Savage’s general social media presence was just limited to Instagram, with the footballer holding no accounts on TikTok, Twitch or Snapchat.

Although he is a regular poster on Instagram, Savage’s following of 133,000 consists of just 2% registered as under-18. His Twitter following of 1.6 million has just 0.1% under-18, amounting to 1,600 users. The ASA therefore determined that this ‘does not suggest a strong appeal to that age group’.

Although William Hill has escaped any judgement, tweets have landed some bookmakers under the ASA’s spotlight in recent months. Ladbrokes and bet365 were both criticised by the ASA this month for tweets featuring active sportspeople, four tennis players in the case of the former and footballer Granit Xhaka in the case of the latter.

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