Betting companies who were set to exclusively stream live FA Cup matches have backed down following pressure from the Prime Minister.
The FA ended its association with Ladbrokes in June 2017 over concerns about the relationship between football and gambling, but an earlier deal with sports rights company IMG allows some gambling firms to broadcast the games live.
This year, 22 of the 32 FA Cup third round fixtures could only be viewed on Bet365’s website and app for those who paid into an account or who placed a bet.
Boris Johnson led a number of MPs in criticing the FA for allowing this to happen.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “This is a matter for the FA but we believe it should reconsider its deal with Bet365.”
Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan added: “We have been clear with the football authorities – they have a responsibility to ensure fans are protected from the risks of problem gambling. I hope the FA reconsiders.”
All of the third-round ties were delayed by a minute to show a video about mental health, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock highlighted the negative effect gambling can have on people’s lives.
He said: “Given the excellent work the football community has been doing on supporting good mental health, it is hugely disappointing to see the FA supporting something that is a major cause of both mental health and addiction.
“The football authorities must think much more carefully about the impact that their sponsorship deals can have on those affected by gambling-related harm – and I urge them to reconsider this association.”
In response, seven gambling companies who acquired the rights from IMG have offered to give up their exclusivity.
The FA it has said it will not renew the deal with betting companies in 2024 and that from next year all FA Cup games will be shown for free on its website.
Republished by permission of the Christian Institute.