Calls for FA to cut ties with gambling companies

Calls for FA to cut ties with gambling companies

Calls for FA to cut ties with gambling companies

The global betting rights on the FA Cup has been sold to IMG, a marketing company, in a deal worth £3.1 million on an annual basis.

The BGC's statement is supported by Bet365, GVC Holdings (which owns Ladbrokes and Coral), Flutter Entertainment (which owns Paddy Power and Betfair), William Hill and Kindred Group (which owns Unibet).

The broadcast rights to the FA Cup for 2018-21 are held by the BBC and BT Sport, which have their picks of matches to be televised live, so there was a risk of undermining their audiences if the FA were to show other matches in full, live on its website. "They are therefore happy for IMG to offer the rights to screen these games to the Football Association or another appropriate body so that the games can be viewed for free by the public with immediate effect".

Pressure from the government has intensified and the matter was discussed in parliament yesterday (Thursday).

"Bet365 believes that these streaming services provide added value to its customers and enable them to watch FA Cup matches that they might not otherwise have been able to see", it said.

The gambling website streamed 23 third-round FA Cup games at the weekend as part of a deal signed with the FA in January 2017.

The media rights deal with Bet365 allows soccer fans the facility to "bet-to-view". Still, the recently revealed media rights deals have been under fierce criticism considering the previous anti-gambling policy followed by the Football Association and the measures it has been taking to keep gambling away from professional football.

The PA news agency understands that any free platform will need to be geo-blocked to prevent users from outside the United Kingdom accessing the streams, in order to protect overseas deals struck by IMG.

Sports minister Nigel Adams had said he was "very angry" about the arrangements and the FA has promised a review of how it sells this element of its media rights in the future. From 2021-22 onwards, however, the issue of protecting paywall United Kingdom television coverage will be removed as rights will be shared by free-to-air duo BBC and ITV.

Left unsaid in all this clamor is that the betting companies' deals were only possible due to the failure of broadcasters or other firms to ante up to pay for the rights to stream these matches.

In accordance with standard betting streaming legislation, restrictions are placed on the quality of the stream and screen size so as to avoid undermining the broadcast coverage being shown domestically. "This deal was agreed before we made a clear decision on the FA's relationship with gambling companies in June 2017".

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