A Christian charity is calling on Premier League football clubs to end their links with betting companies.
CARE says clubs should stop putting advertising from betting companies on players' shirts and should be more aware of gambling-related harm.
Its new research shows that just under half of Premier League shirt sponsors are betting companies this season, with nine out of the twenty clubs including a betting ad on their strip - the same proportion as in 2018.
The study also found that a total of 19 clubs partner with betting firms in some way, meaning ads will appear on official channels such as websites and stadium noticeboards, if not on strips.
CARE´s chief communications officer, James Mildred told Premier:
"You can just see how hardwired the relationship is and CARE, along with many other groups and campaigners, have said again and again it is time to look properly at football's relationship with the gambling industry because we now know how much harm is being done by gambling addiction. And this is a season coming off the back of multiple lockdowns, which has only made the problem worse.
"When we talk about gambling related harms, in the most extreme cases, it can lead tragically to suicide. But before you get to that point, it can cause relationship breakdown, job loss, family breakdown, it has ripple effects for whole communities. It's not just one individual who's suffering, it's everyone around them as well. And so given the popularity of football, given its prevalence - how many young people will watch Premier League games this season - we think it's about time that the Premier League actually gave the red card to the gambling industry and made some serious changes."
CARE found that Norwich City is the only club in the Premier League to have no official links to betting firms, after scrapping BK8 as its main sponsor in June.
By contrast, the number of betting-related shirt sponsors in the Championship has dropped significantly. Just six teams host a betting company on their strip this season compared to 17 in 2018. However, 15 clubs out of 24 still partner with betting firms in some way.
There has been a reported rise in gambling-related harms during the coronavirus pandemic. A study in May this year suggested that online gambling soared in 2020, with regular gamblers more than six times more likely to gamble online.
James Mildred says Premier League bosses need to behave more responsibility, given the influence they have on fans:
"The fact that close to half of top tier clubs have gambling ads emblazoned across the chests of players is especially hard to stomach. There has been no change to the extent of this advertising in four years. The presence of ads on shirts sends a message that gambling is harmless fun. For many thousands of families blighted by addiction, this couldn't be further from the truth.
"Premier League bosses should follow the lead of their contemporaries in the Championship who have broadly moved away from including betting companies as main club sponsors. It's time bosses truly stepped up for vulnerable fans by showing betting companies the red card."