It was comforting last week to settle in front of the telly, albeit briefly, to watch a sporting event that wass not sponsored by a bookmaker. I did not watch a great deal of it although I do enjoy the skills of the competitors in the game of bowls. As so many of them were not exactly in the first flush of youth it seemed right that the sponsor of choice was Co-op funeral care. But I digress. You cannot watch any kind of sporting event without being encouraged to lose a few quid to an on-line bookie.
Last week, the ever controversial (in this context, controversial means twat) Joey Barton was banned from playing football because he had defied FA rules by betting on loads of football matches. The FA does not take kindly to players flouting the rules on gambling and Barton has been booted out of the game for 18 months. This would be all well and good if one of the FA’s major “partners” was not Ladbrokes.
“This partnership with Ladbrokes comes at a time when The FA, as a not-for-profit organisation, is investing record levels back into football at all levels of the game,” said FA suit Martin Glenn. “Ladbrokes join an outstanding portfolio of official FA partners, providing support across the England team, and the most famous cup competition in the world, The Emirates FA Cup. We are delighted to welcome them on board.”
Now excuse me, but if Joey Barton has the book thrown at him for having a few – well, rather a lot of – bets, isn’t there something strange about the game’s rulers having a commercial partnership with a bookmaker? I am not going to dissect word by word what Glenn said, but how will this deal with Ladbrokes “provide support across the England team?” Will they be given special betting slips or on-line apps, just for the pros? I can just see Gareth Southgate’s team talk: “Now have a go early on, lads. I’ve got £20 on a 2-0 win today with Harry Kane being among the scorers. Defenders – don’t arse about. I need that clean sheet so if in doubt kick the ball into row z. Is that clear? Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got to check on the result of the 2.45 at Cheltenham.”
Tonight, as I settle down to watch Liverpool lose at Watford, I will be subjected to a barrage of adverts, most of them absolutely crap, encouraging me to spend my hard-earned cash. In endorsing Bet 365, East End hard man Ray Winstone will be growling, “I lose responsibly” (I think that’s what he said). But then he can afford to lose responsibly because he’s worth millions. Losing a tenner on his Saturday accumulator will not see him rocking up at a food bank the following Monday. Or the Ladbrokes life, where five well-coiffeured middle class lads have a laugh and a joke winning lots of money. All I can say is fair play to the camera crew for catching them on the day they actually won. It might not have made such enjoyable viewing otherwise.
I have had the odd bet in the past – very odd as most of them turned out to be – and it didn’t take me long to realise betting is all about luck and that most people who bet lose. This is obvious because there are now so many bookies. They can’t all be losing money.
I’ll stick with Co-op funeral care for sponsorship for now because you never know when you might need them. I’ll bet you anything you like I won’t gambling anytime soon.