Former Arsenal Captain and Sporting Chance founder Tony Adams has identified problem gambling as the biggest addiction concern for the current and next generations of football players.
Speaking on Bryony Gordon’s Mad World podcast for the The Telegraph, the ex-player outlined his view that gambling poses a bigger addiction threat to football players than drugs and alcohol.
Based on his own experience with addiction – in his case, alcohol – Adams founded Sporting Chance as a UK-registered charity to provide specialist treatment, education and recovery services for athletes.
“The new generation can’t consume the level of alcohol that I did, and play to that level. It is just not done now,” he explained on the podcast. “In my experiences with Sporting Chance, which is now 21 years old, with most of the people we are getting, if they are current players, it is gambling addiction. Gambling addiction is the one that is pretty much epidemic in professional football.
“In rugby league you have got prescription drugs that are quite prevalent. In different sports, cocaine. But if you are talking about professional footballers, definitely their drug of choice is not alcohol when they are playing.”
Adams further outlined his view that although there is a section of society that is happy with placing small bets, there are others who will chase losses and ‘are going to mortgage their house to pay for a bet, or nick their Christmas money and go and have a bet’, correlating these experiences with his own battles with alcoholism.
Noting his experience with his Sporting Chance addiction charity, Adams stated that of four sportspeople he has recently encountered at the Sporting Chance clinic, one was a current footballer who he described as a ‘gambling addict’.
This time last year, Sporting Chance revealed that 60% of its patients at the time were professional athletes who had encountered trouble with gambling addiction, asserting that gambling related harm had ‘eclipsed’ drugs and alcohol as the most common form of addiction faced by sportspeople.
The former player’s comments come as the relationship between football and betting is under increasing public and political scrutiny, with a ban on front-of-shirt sponsorship arrangements between clubs and operators a likely outcome of the 2005 Gambling Act review.