Partick Thistle FC has become the 20th football club to back our campaign to end all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football. The club’s announcement follows our latest campaign event, which saw over 40 people harmed by gambling walk 60 miles to visit nine Scottish football clubs – including the Jags.
The club, which plays in the Scottish Championship, joins Tranmere Rovers, Luton Town, Forest Green Rovers, Edinburgh City, Dulwich Hamlet, Drogheda United and others in calling for an end to football’s unhealthy relationship with gambling companies.
Gerry Britton, Partick Thistle’s Chief Executive, said:
“We were very pleased to welcome The Big Step team to Firhill. As a club, we have staff and fans who have experienced first-hand the harm that gambling does and took the decision some time ago not to accept gambling sponsorship money.
“Addiction in all of its forms damages lives but hearing from people harmed by gambling about the levels of suicides related to gambling was a shock. We’ve signed up to the campaign to play our part and support change and will do what we can to help going forward.”
There are between 340,000 and 1.4 million adults addicted to gambling in the UK, as well as 55,000 children. Gambling addiction has the highest suicide rate of any addiction, with those addicted up to 15 times more likely to end their lives than members of the general population. Tragically, there are up to 650 gambling-related suicides every year in the UK.
James Grimes, who founded The Big Step after being addicted to gambling for 12 years said:
“Partick Thistle’s support is a fantastic reward for our 60-mile walk at the weekend. The club was brilliant when we visited – with the chief executive serving the hot drinks himself!
“With the Gambling Act review in such a crucial phase, we applaud Partick Thistle’s commitment to the health of their young fans and the long-term sustainability of the game and encourage every club in the country to follow their example.”
The Big Step’s walk was supported by eight members of the Scottish and UK Parliament, with three – Ronnie Cowan, Margaret Ferrier and Kaukab Stewart – joining for part of the walk. The group also visited Heart of Midlothian at the weekend, a club that made the decision in 2014 not to accept direct gambling sponsorship money. Their Marketing and Communications Director, Catriona McCallum, spoke to The Big Step during the walk and said:
“We’ve had to work hard at it, but we’ve actually found that a lot of companies really appreciate the stance, and in some ways it helps us get those kinds of companies involved because they’re seeing you as a kind of good corporate social citizen.
When asked whether football would collapse without gambling sponsorship money, McCallum simply replied:
“We certainly haven’t, no.”