The relationship between gambling and football is at saturation point. Gambling has been relentlessly normalised and glamourised to young football fans. As a recovering gambling addict, I know that gambling addiction is not normal, nor glamorous. Football has a responsibility to prevent children going through the same thing I did.
Gambling addiction took to me my darkest places and I am pleased to be over two years in recovery. The sport I love has been infected by gambling and like many others, it infected me too.
There are approximately 250-650 gambling related suicides every year and there are 55,000 child problem gamblers in the UK.
We want football to be free of gambling sponsorship and advertising, alongside ensuring football clubs are places where those affected by gambling related harm are protected, educated and supported.
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 related harm in football.
In February 2020 we walked 100 miles in 75 hours visiting six more Premier League and Championship football clubs, all of whom have a gambling based shirt sponsor.
We have so far raised £8000 for Gambling with Lives, a charity set up by bereaved families and friends of young men who sadly took their own lives as a direct result of their gambling addiction.
Until a much needed review of the Gambling Act, we will continue to engage with clubs to raise awareness of gambling harms, educate effectively and put measures in place to support those affected by gambling related harm.