FA eyes betting industry levy after collapse of Wembley sale

After Fulham owner Shahid Khan retracted his £600m offer to buy Wembley Stadium, FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn has revealed the FA could seek to implement a levy on betting operators.

Glenn had pushed for the sale of Wembley to increase the funding of grassroots football, however he failed to gain the backing of the FA Council and the potential takeover caused much discontent and division amongst English football, leading to Khan withdrawing his bid.

The FA Chief Executive has now revealed there’s potential for a levy to be introduced on the gambling industry, in order to fund grassroots football. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Glenn said: “France has effectively a tax on gambling. We would call it a fair return on football gambling.

“All those betting companies use our intellectual property to have people lay bets, so why wouldn’t a small percentage of that be put into the thing that made that possible in the first place?

“We, as football, could approach the government and say ‘Have you thought about something like that?’

“It doesn’t need to be a big lump sum. We’ve got £64m going into the Football Foundation between the three of us (FA, Premier League and government) – imagine if it was £80m or £100m. If we could get to that it would be brilliant.”

In a statement to the media, Gillian Wilmot, Chair of the Senet Group, responded to the proposals: “Gambling companies already pay significantly above the market rate for the right to advertise alongside live sport.

“This is money which flows to broadcasters and ultimately benefits sport through the sale of broadcast rights. Instead of looking to further monetise gambling’s relationship with live sport, the FA, clubs and broadcasters should be looking to work with the gambling industry to reduce the amount of gambling advertising around football. This is in the interests of protecting young people from any potential future harm.”

In its conditions for the potential sale of Wembley, the government prohibited the national stadium from having an official betting partner. The FA hasn’t had an official betting partner since it ended its partnership with Ladbrokes in 2017, citing a change of policy on gambling relationships as the reason.

The Remote Gambling Association also responded, echoing the sentiments of the Senet Group: “The British betting industry already pays for the use of football’s intellectual property rights, not least through contractual arrangements with Football Data Co,” RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood told Press Association Sport.

“Alongside that, significant funds flow from the betting to the football industries through a range of commercial partnerships such as sponsorship, advertising and joint ventures.

“If the football authorities wish to use some of those funds to support grassroots football then that is an option they might consider, but there is no basis whatsoever for the introduction of a statutory betting levy to support what most people would consider to be an extremely wealthy sport.”

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