Sligo Rovers, who play in the League of Ireland Premier Division, becomes the 25th club to back the campaign in the UK and Ireland, and the second club that plays in the League of Ireland Premier Division joining Drogheda United.
The announcement adds to the growing resistance against gambling advertising in football in Ireland. Last year Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins, described gambling adverts accompanying sporting events as “dangerous” and said they were causing “so much damage to families”.
Last week, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced that celebrities are to be banned from appearing in gambling adverts in the UK from October. It was also revealed that research submitted by the English Football League to the UK Government as part of the Gambling Act review was “flawed”, “misleading” and “undertaken to draw a pre-determined conclusion”.
This came after 20 football clubs, including Drogheda United, signed an open letter to the UK Government calling on them to ban all gambling adverts and sponsorship in football. In the letter, the clubs stressed they were not reliant on gambling revenue, in stark contrast to the gambling industry narrative.
Tommy Higgins, Chairman of Sligo Rovers, said: “Sligo Rovers is a proud community club which welcomes people of all ages and all walks of life and it’s important to us to do all we can to help protect our supporters, players and everyone associated with the club in any way we can.
“We feel this small step of not accepting any sponsorships from gambling companies may go a small way to helping what is a huge problem in our society. As a club, we are not in a position to refuse sponsorships too often however we feel the negative aspect of this advertising far outweighs any monetary value to the football club.”
Earlier this year the club pledged not to take gambling sponsorship money and issued the following statement: “Sligo Rovers have taken the decision not to accept sponsorship from gambling companies.
“The Bit O’ Red have turned down two large sponsorship offers from gambling companies in the last number of months as we move to formalise this policy.
“As a community-funded club, we believe it would be irresponsible to accept these proposals.
“Sponsorship is a critical aspect in the running of Sligo Rovers and turning down five-figure sponsorship offers is not a straight-forward decision, particularly given the club is self-funded with no individual benefactor like many others in the League of Ireland.
“The ethos of our club is to be inclusive and open to welcome all ages and demographics. We feel such advertising, directly aimed at our supporters and particularly to our young fans, could have a detrimental outcome going forward and not in the spirit of the football club.”