The issue of gambling and its relationship with football has been the subject of intensive debate over the last few years - both in the UK and across Europe. There is a lot to discuss, from sponsorship and advertising to football players and staff engaging in betting.
In these moments, there is often a decision to be made. Regulators and governments have implemented blanket bans or severe restrictions in some markets. In the case of Italy, though, recent data has revealed that a ban on advertising (and a ban on sponsorship in football) is likely leading to an increase in the revenues of black-market operators.
Kindred's firm view is that gambling operators' ability to advertise and sponsor - particularly in sports like football - is a vital piece of the wider approach to ensuring gambling remains safe, enjoyable, and in the licensed market. Our work building a unique and bespoke sponsorship model is a testament that a better, safer model of sponsorship and advertising is possible.
And I'm delighted we're going one step further today in that work. We are strengthening our long-standing partnership with Rangers FC - leveraging our sponsorship for good to break new ground in Scotland. Players and staff at Rangers FC will participate in independent gambling education sessions designed especially for top-level sportspeople, aiming to facilitate a healthy relationship with the sector. The sessions will be led by EPIC Risk Management, a safer gambling consultancy that has worked with clubs, leagues, and federations worldwide.
This is the first time a club in the Scottish Premiership has worked with an organisation such as EPIC to provide independent gambling guidance to their employees properly – and follows EPIC's work in the EFL and other leagues worldwide. Sessions will be bespoke, tailored to individual needs, featuring insights from former players who have experienced gambling-related issues, including some who have played at international level.
We are confident that we can continue to make a difference through projects like this at Rangers. That should be our collective focus - to improve and increase the quality of sponsors' relationships with sport, not remove it from the public eye because we know that when sponsorship and advertising are done properly, it can be a force for good. Sports sponsors have a unique link to communities, places, and people and present a huge opportunity to make a difference. We know that there are ways that football and gambling can continue to work together, and that can be for the benefit of the clubs and their communities and the benefit of achieving a sustainable environment for gambling.