Gambling exposure in football: An analysis of Premier League and Championship matchday programmes

Dr Steve Sharman

Research Fellow

Dr Steve Sharman is a Research Fellow within the School of Psychology at the University of East London. His primary research area uses virtual reality to examine the influence of specific within game constructs on gambling behaviour, and to distinguish between the ecological validity of different experimental environments. Steve also works researches disordered gambling in vulnerable populations, with a specific focus on the relationship between gambling and homelessness. Furthermore, Steve works closely with a number of treatment providers in the UK, and is also interested in the relationship between gambling, crime, and incarceration.



The relationship between football and gambling is ever increasing with some competitions and many Premier League and Championship teams sponsored by gambling companies. This research sought to quantify gambling exposure in the Matchday programme both through direct advertising, and incidental exposure for all Premier League and Championship clubs. Frequency of direct adverts and incidental exposure was compared to equivalent alcohol and smoking marketing exposure. Matchday programmes were obtained for one home game for each team in the top two English divisions over consecutive weekends in October 2018, where over 1.2 million people attended matches. Results indicate that exposure to gambling through both direct adverts and incidental exposure is significantly greater than either alcohol or tobacco. In some instances, exposure to gambling was apparent on over 40% of programme pages. The programmes of teams sponsored by a gambling company had a higher proportion of pages with gambling exposure than those sponsored by a non-gambling sponsor. Most strikingly, many clubs had dedicated child sections of the programme which still exposed children to gambling marketing. Repeated exposure to an adult product to children is a significant problem for legislative authorities.

This work was funded by an internal University of East London Research Fund.