Peter Ridsdale has confirmed that Preston North End has ended its collaboration with the Kindred Group’s 32Red brand, with “a local non betting partner” to be announced in the coming weeks.
The advisor to club owner Trevor Hemmings disclosed the move in a message to supporters, which comes amid a much wider backlash regarding the relationship of the gambling industry and football.
Ridsdale did show appreciation “for the income received from the betting sector and for the last four years from 32Red,” but cited increased concern from supporters regarding such relationships as being a key driver in making the decision to end the partnership.
Prohibition of betting sponsorships by sports clubs has been touted as ‘the most likely outcome’ of the overhaul of British gambling legislation, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet have reportedly supported the idea, although Rick Parry, chairman of the English Football League, has voiced concerns over what the financial implications could mean for its members.
In the message to PNE fans, Ridsdale explained: “Finding good sponsors that work with us and also pay competitive monies is difficult. Some years ago many football clubs were sponsored by alcohol companies and then that sector was prohibited.
“This gap was taken up by betting companies. Indeed if you take away front of shirt sponsors who are directly connected to their clubs owners, by far the greatest balance of front of shirt sponsors in the top two divisions are betting companies.
“We have been grateful for the income received from the betting sector and for the last four years from 32Red. We do however recognise that many of our supporters have grave misgivings in such relationships and of course it means that replica shirts for our supporters aged under 18 cannot be the same as the ones being worn by our first team squad.
“In thanking 32Red and all other sponsors in recent years, I am able to confirm that we will be announcing in the coming weeks a new front of shirt sponsorship deal with a local non betting partner that we are absolutely delighted with and we believe that our supporters will be too. This will give us plenty of time to get the new logos onto the 2021/22 kit in time for launch in July.”
Earlier this month, Forest Green Rovers threw its support behind a national campaign to end all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, commenting that “it’s like gambling has taken over”.
The club joined national campaign The Big Step, part of the Gambling with Lives charity, which calls for an end to sponsorship and advertising of gambling across the sport, and was founded to raise awareness of the ‘growing dependence’ on the betting and gaming industry.
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