Lewes FC's clash with Billericay is part of stand against gambling

Lewes FC are one of four clubs who have turned down gambling sponsorship and who are to play in two rare gambling ad-free matches this week, in support of a campaign that is tackling football’s relationship with gambling.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 3:10 pm
Updated Monday, 26th July 2021, 3:10 pm
The Dripping Pan / Picture: James Boyes

Billericay Town will play Lewes on Tuesday, followed by Forest Green Rovers versus Swansea City on Wednesday 29 July.

All four clubs have turned down gambling sponsorship now work with The Big Step and Gambling with Lives to help raise awareness of gambling harms in their communities.

The Big Step is a grassroots campaign founded by people with lived experience of gambling harm, part of the charity Gambling with Lives. Since 2019, The Big Step has been campaigning to reduce gambling-related harm across the entire population by campaigning for an end to all gambling advertising in football, including shirt sponsors and pitch-side ads.

Gambling advertising has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, especially in football. The recent Channel 4 documentary, Football’s Gambling Addiction, found that gambling logos can appear over 700 times in a single game[1], highlighting the uniqueness of these gambling ad-free matches.

James Grimes, founder of The Big Step campaign said: "With only two top-tier clubs without a gambling sponsor or partner, these games send a big message to the rest of the football league.

“Promoting highly addictive products that harm many people every day is not something most fans want to see their clubs doing, which is why we believe gambling adverts and sponsorship should have no place in football.”

Campaigners from The Big Step, all with lived experience of gambling harm, will be raising awareness of harmful pitch-side gambling adverts by walking 92 lengths of the pitch before each game – one length for each club in the English Football League and the Premier League, the vast majority of whom promote gambling in their stadia.

Forest Green Rovers chairman, Dale Vince, said: “Gambling is an abuse of football and football fans, and the fun has already stopped. We’re happy to support Gambling with Lives together with Swansea to have this gambling ad-free game tonight – something rather rare in football now.”

John Peel, director of Lewes, said: "We are proud to have partnered Gambling with Lives since September 2019 and fully endorse their campaign to change football's corrosive relationship with the gambling industry."

The Big Step is a charity project that was formed by people with lived experience of gambling harm. Their campaign revolves around ending gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, and now forms a constituent part of the wider Gambling with Lives campaign. You can find out more here.

Gambling with Lives was set up by the families and friends of young people who had taken their own lives as a direct result of gambling. You can find out more here.