Luton Town football club turns down £1million of sponsorship

Luton Town football club chief turns down an estimated £1million of sponsorship from betting firms because he doesn’t want to send pro-gambling messages to young fans

  • Gary Sweet said the club’s decision was swayed by a board member
  • He felt strongly that branding was ‘tightly associated’ with the team’s success 
  •  Children aged 11 to 16 are the most likely to buy replica shirts, Mr Sweet said

A football executive has taken a stand by turning down an estimated £1million of sponsorship from gambling companies.

Luton Town’s Gary Sweet, who has three children, said it makes him ‘uncomfortable’ if young fans see pro-gambling messages.

And he added that the club’s decision was swayed by a board member whose friend killed himself after becoming addicted to gambling.

Gary Sweet (pictured above) said it makes him feel ‘uncomfortable’ if young fans see pro gambling messages

Children aged 11 to 16 are the most likely to buy replica shirts, he said, adding he felt strongly that the kit’s branding was ‘tightly associated’ with a team’s success.

Nine out of 20 teams in the Premier League and 17 of 24 in the Championship division have gambling firms advertising on their club shirts this season. Sky Bet sponsors all three of the EFL’s divisions, including League One in which Luton Town play, and clubs are required to carry its branding on the sleeves of their shirts.

Mr Sweet, whose children are aged six, 13 and 16, said: ‘That’s the most impressionable age when you remember the sponsor. When I was growing up at that age, I remember the dates when the sponsorships changed – that’s our major concern.

According to Gary Sweet children aged 11 to 16 are the most likely to buy replica shirts

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‘With gambling, when we were looking for sponsorship, we were courted by online gambling firms. We had that decision at board level that we were uncomfortable. We knew back then there were problems with youths and children getting involved with gambling and it was a habit that could form into a lifelong problem.’

Luton Town makes £500,000 a year in sponsorship as part of its total £8million turnover and Mr Sweet estimates that sponsorship from gambling firms would bring in up to £100,000 extra a year.

This means the club could have brought in an extra £1million from gambling sponsorship during his ten years in charge.

Luton Town makes £500,000 a year in sponsorship as part of its total £8million turnover. Pictured above, Elliot Lee of Luton Town Rochdale v Luton Town, EFL Sky Bet League One, Football, Spotland Stadium, Rochdale

Mr Sweet added: ‘One of our board members has personal experience and he believes one of his friends lost his life due to gambling addiction.’ He declined to name the firms he had turned down, saying: ‘We send a one-word answer politely declining their offer.’

Lord Chadlington (pictured above) said it was a positive move in light of the exposure of gambling adverts 

This season, Luton Town has different sponsors for its three kits – property lettings firm Indigo Residential, commercial energy broker Northern Gas and Power, and industrial hire company Star Platforms.

Lord Chadlington, ex-chairman of charity Action on Addiction, said: ‘This is a positive step in light of the current exposure of gambling adverts, in particular to children and those at risk of gambling-related harm. We may well look back on this period when we allowed this sort of gambling marketing with the same bewilderment that we now look back at the time when tobacco was advertised on TV.’

Britain’s top betting firms have now agreed to a ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban on advertising during live TV coverage of football matches and other sports. The move is expected to be signed off at a meeting of five major gambling industry associations next week.


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