Rick Parry has drawn a new battle line between the EFL and Government - warning that a ban on gambling sponsorship deals would lead to further financial ruin for clubs.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden will launch the Government’s long-awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act with a call for evidence later this month.
The review is likely to lead to new regulations for advertising in sport which could come into force as early as next year, with campaigners calling for a ban on betting firms being front-of-shirt sponsors.
EFL chief Rick Parry (right) has warned a ban on gambling sponsorship deals would kill clubs
That, though, would spell financial disaster for some cash-strapped EFL clubs who are already fighting for survival because of the Government’s block on fans attending matches.
‘The timing couldn’t be worse,’ said EFL chairman Parry in an exclusive interview. ‘The situation facing clubs at the moment is pretty dire. Obviously that is Covid related and it’s basically because the Government isn’t allowing us to earn any revenue from our principal sources - gate receipts.
‘But the last thing we need at the moment is restrictions on other valuable sources of income because they can’t be just switched overnight. The priority at the moment is making sure we have clubs surviving come Christmas. But this is definitely an important issue and one that we are paying close attention to.’
The gambling sector contributes more than £40million a season to the EFL and their 72 clubs
The gambling sector contributes more than £40million a season to the EFL - whose own competition is sponsored by online betting site Sky Bet - and their 72 clubs.
Speaking to Sportsmail, Carolyn Harris, Labour MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on gambling-related harm, pointed out that sports found new commercial partners after tobacco sponsorship was banned in the UK in 2003 despite similar warnings.
But Parry said: ‘It is a substantial amount of money involved and in the current climate it is not easy to simply pick up new sponsors. If not betting, which is the market we should go to? Other sectors are not showing that appetite to come in and sponsor teams at the moment. You can’t just turn the tap off and think they will be replaced overnight.’
Eight Premier League teams and half of the Championship’s 24 clubs have betting firms as their front-of-shirt sponsor.