Drogheda United chairman Conor Hoey has called for an end to all gambling advertising associated with Irish football.
The SSE Airtricity League Premier Division team have become the first Irish club to support a UK-based campaign called The Big Step which aims to end all forms of gambling sponsorship in sport.
Speaking on RTÃ Morning IrelandHoey said he was concerned about creating a “gambling epidemic” and that the Louth club’s decision is part of a larger effort.
“First of all, we are following the lead of our governing body, the FAI, which in recent years has turned down major gambling sponsorships for Ireland’s main national team,” he said. .
âWe are following the lead there and following the lead of a number of other clubs in the league here in Ireland who are against game sponsorship and advertising in the league like St Patrick’s Athletic who in the Cup Final (FAI) had an ad going around the Aviva saying “Stop Gambling Harm”.
“So we’re not the only club trying to push this, but we really fear raising a generation of kids who think betting and football are synonymous and in doing so create a gambling epidemic.”
Hoey added that Drogheda wanted “to self-regulate here in Ireland and do it before the government even forces us.”
He explained that they had received “two approaches” last year from game companies interested in sponsoring the club.
âWe turned them down both. And I know other clubs have received major jersey front-side sponsorship offers and turned them down as well,â he said.
âSome of us have to lead by example here and I think that’s a very good thing for the league itself for a lot of clubs and I think the majority of clubs are in our camp here to stand up and say, ‘Look, we want to do what’s here’.
âThe League of Ireland is a wonderful community of clubs. She provides wonderful entertainment for families and people across the country and I think we generally have the right values ââas a league and to stand up and say we should step down from sponsorship of games in sport is a good thing. . “
Hoey also added that Drogheda is considering ending his club’s lottery as part of a wider action against gambling advertising.
“We are meeting as a council next week to see if we need to end our lottery and all funds that have been raised from it should be put into a building fund for new facilities for our youth teams and our academy. .
“Trying to assimilate club lotteries across the country, where a few hundred pounds are raised, with gambling companies (and) international gambling companies often located in offshore locations and reporting billions of dollars at the expense of the people who lose … I don’t think you can equate the two. But it’s definitely something we’re looking at too. “
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