FA is urged to axe betting deal NOW: Football bosses are urged to impose outright ban on games being shown on gambling sites as row intensifies over the ‘shameful’ deal
- Betting firms offered to waive their exclusive rights to show live FA Cup games
- FA said games will be available except those in the TV ‘blackout period’ on a Saturday
- Matches not shown on the BBC or BT Sport likely to be live-streamed on FA site
- Seven gambling firms will still be able to show games fans have placed a bet on
Football bosses were urged to impose an outright ban on FA Cup games being shown on gambling sites yesterday as the row intensified over the ‘shameful’ deal.
As the FA bowed to pressure over the agreement by saying games would now be free to view elsewhere, critics said the compromise did not go far enough.
On Thursday betting firms scrambled to save face over the controversy by offering to waive their exclusive rights to show games.
Yesterday the FA took up the proposal and announced that all games, apart from those played in the TV ‘blackout’ period on Saturday afternoons, would be available through a number of outlets.
Football bosses have been urged to impose a ban on FA cup games being shown on gambling sites. Firms then scrambled to save face over the controversy by offering to waive their exclusive rights to show games (pictured, Sheffield Wednesday’s Liam Palmer (left) and Queens Park Rangers’ Ryan Manning)
Any matches not shown on the BBC or BT Sport – which have FA Cup television rights – are likely to be streamed live on the FA’s own website.
However, it means seven gambling companies will still be able to show games to fans who have placed a bet or have an active account with them.
MPs and experts have slammed the six-year, £750million deal, saying it entices people to start betting, and can lead to problem gambling and mental health issues.
Bet365 screenshot showing live streaming of FA Cup game between Arsenal and Leeds (left) and (right) Liverpool against Everton
In a statement yesterday, the FA said: ‘The FA is in discussions with the BBC and BT Sport, our broadcast partners for the Emirates FA Cup, to ensure every Emirates FA Cup match scheduled outside of the Saturday blocked broadcast hours is now made available to watch live on BBC, BT Sport, or on FA platforms. Further details will be confirmed in due course.’
But last night NHS England mental health director Claire Murdoch said the FA had not gone far enough.
She said: ‘Bet-to-view has to end full stop, no half measures. The clock is ticking for the FA and firms to do what’s right. Another pound of games offered in exchange for a bet will mean another group of fans turned into punters, exposing them to the risk of addictive gambling.’
Matches not shown on the BBC or BT Sport – which have FA Cup television rights – are likely to be streamed live on the FA’s own website
James Grimes, a former gambling addict who set up The Big Step charity, added: ‘This is a PR stunt. It seems to be aimed at avoiding real change and regulation.
‘The fact betting sites can still stream the matches shows it is more about posturing than genuine change. They should be banned from showing any football matches.’
The Mail revealed this week how 22 of 32 third-round FA Cup fixtures last weekend could be viewed only on Bet365’s website and app.
Betting odds accompanied the live footage (pictured), tempting viewers to place a stake in the matches on show
Ministers have called for the issue to be resolved before the next round of ties on the weekend of January 25 and 26 and on Thursday FA chief executive Mark Bullingham was called into talks with sports minister Nigel Adams.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris dismissed the betting firms’ offer to waive exclusivity to matches as a bid to appear ‘soft, caring and cuddly’.
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