As a recovering gambling addict and a huge football fan, I am aware that the prevalence of gambling in football from a young age normalized gambling, exacerbated my problem and subsequent gambling addiction.
This addiction took to me my darkest places and I am pleased to be nearly 24 months in recovery. The sport I love has been infected by gambling and like many others, it infected me too.
Football has a responsibility to prevent young fans becoming gambling addicts like me. Football clubs should be safe, caring community hubs where those affected by gambling related harm are protected.
There are 250-650 gambling related suicides every year and 55,000 child problem gamblers.
in June 2019, we walked 124 miles in 90 hours around the North of England. The first Big Step was a tough but rewarding challenge where we asked clubs and fans to review their relationship with gambling companies to prevent gambling harm in football.
We raised £4000 for Gambling with Lives, a charity set up by bereaved families and friends of gambling addicts who sadly took their own lives.
We have subsequently engaged with clubs to raise awareness of gambling harms and put measures in place to protect those affected by gambling related harm.
In February 2020 we will walk 100 miles in 75 hours visiting six more Premier League and Championship football clubs, all of whom have a gambling based shirt sponsor.