The Football and Society Podcast / Starting them young? How the gambling industry is targeting football fans from childhood

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Episode notes

The revenue generated by gambling sponsorship for English Premier League teams rose to nearly £350 million in the 2019-20 season. The logos of gambling companies are ubiquitous when watching professional football; on players’ shirts, along the advertising hoardings, and in the countless adverts at half-time.

Today we speak to Dr Natalie Djohari and Dr Gavin Weston about their study exploring the effects of gambling’s visibility for children who follow the sport, focussing on products and merchandise that are specifically targeted at them. This included sticker albums, trading cards, and football magazines. 

Despite legislation forbidding direct advertising aimed at children, they are nevertheless exposed to it indirectly. Natalie and Gavin note that it is difficult to limit this exposure, since images are mobile and circulate within a visual economy that invests them with meaning and significance. The study also found that youngsters are likely to have a larger portfolio of teams that they follow than adults, which increases the likelihood they will come across signs of gambling in some form or other. 

In this manner, gambling advertising finds its way into the worlds of young football fans, a matter of concern given that they lack the critical faculties to understand the risks of addictive behaviour. The exposure of children to gambling logos is an important, if unintended, consequence of the increasing sponsorship of football teams by gambling companies worldwide.

  • Can clubs do more to reduce the negative effects of gambling?
  • Will gambling sponsorship go the same way as alcohol sponsorship?
  • How concerned should we be about 'loot packs' encouraging comfort with gambling?

...all this and more in the 22nd episode of the Football and Society podcast.


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Each week, Ash, Chris and Norman explore societal issues through the lens of the beautiful game.

From the ethics of gambling sponsorship to what a stadium move means for fans, we’ll be covering it all each week with expert guests from the worlds of sports journalism and sociology.