CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!Date: Thursday, 23rd Jan 2020
Brian Rice will be remembered by older Dunfermline Fans as a Pars player 1995/7. With immense courage, the Hamilton Accies Manager has reported himself to the SFA for having a gambling addiction.
The SFA, for their part, have hit him with 5 Notices Of Complaint.
Bill Leckie has claimed this smacks of hypocrisy as our football authorities have their doors open to any betting company but will throw the book at anyone who bets. Bill has speculated that, if Brian had admitted to a drink problem, drug addiction or a mental health struggle they would have given a more sympathetic response. John Hartson has offered to take him to Gamblers Anonymous.
Hamilton Accies, to their credit, are lobbying Hampden in a bid to win an amnesty for all those in such a predicament. Meanwhike Brian, (known throughout the game as " Chipper") could face a touchline ban of up to 16 games or a £100k fine.
The breaches go back 4 years.( In England Joey Barton got an 18 month ban). However, there is a whopping great elephant in the room. Can Scottish Football cope without sponsorship from the betting companies?
Would we not all be impoverished ? How many clubs would go under? We have rejected Tobacco sponsorship sensibly, and made life uncomfortable for the drinks companies.
Dunfermline is not a rich club and alarm bells are already sounding with Gates down almost 20% Seasons down 1000 and people quitting the Centenary Club Lifeline. Yet, surely, we have to do rather more than mumbling "Please gamble responsibly" or "When the fun stops; stop!"
We play in the LADBROKES Championship but that ends in May. It was worth a lucrative £5m over the last 2 years. Their parent company GVC changed their minds about gambling sponsorship of football.
They called for an end to such advertising and a ban on football shirt sponsorship ( used by Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Motherwell). Last Autumn Neil Doncaster reiterated how attractive a proposition Scottish Football is, given seasonal crowds are up 4.9m ie about 20%. More people per head attend football than anywhere else in Europe. He said there was "strong interest from potential title sponsors" but one doesn`t see them queuing up.
The Scottish FA Cup and Scotland team are sponsored by Britain`s biggest bookmaker, William HILL and that is reckoned to be over £1m over 3 years. You then add to that the £1m sponsorship from BETFRED for the Scottish League Cup.
All 3 ominously end in May.
What is not quite so open and above board is the income the SPFL receives from in play betting but some newspapers put the figure at £4m a year.
Football DataCo have refused to divulge.This is significant as research by Nottingham Trent University found that is the most likely reason for fans to become gambling addicts. 1 in 4 Football gamblers uses In Play.
Fans have plenty chopices fopr betting and need to do so responsibly. One new site to look at is www.sportsbetting24.in
This all adds up to £1 of every £5, a Scottish club makes, coming from Gambling companies. The Companies bring in £14b a year and provide 107,000 jobs.
As "Panorama" discovered in the autumn there has been an exponential growth of gambling with a terrible human cost, of which Brian Rice is the latest victin. 68% of Scots aged 16+ gamble.
We are said to have 34,000 problem gamblers. BBC Scotland has argued that betting is a feature of every dressing room in Scottish Football. It is a growing concern of the Scottish Football Supporters Association. This is big business.
The UK has a 39% share of the World`s gambling income and today Football brings in almost twice as much as horse racing. Gambling received a huge boost after the Labour Government liberalised the Law in the Tony Blair era.
The Government will only do so much though given HMRC rakes in £3b a year. However, they have vastly reduced the fixed odds betting terminals maximum stake and have stopped people betting with a credit card. Betting companies paid £20m in fines last year for not doing enough to stop problem gambling.
To end on a happier note it must be pointed out that 98.5% of us do not have a gambling problem. The National Lottery and similar have done an immense amount of good for Charities. The vast majority of problem gamblers were using the fixed odds betting terminals. In play football betting could be regulated.
And we think back fondly to the sequence of results the Pars had in autumn 2015 which almost predictably ended with 7-1 over Cowdenbeath. (the run was 4-1, 5-1, 6-1 and 7-1)
Bet you remember it!