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Luton Town refuse gambling sponsorship, but will other clubs follow suit?


Luton Town's approach

It's not every day that a football team quite literally refuses finances.

Even with the hardship and tough times that can and do still exist throughout a large majority of Football League clubs, Luton Town are happy to turn down offers of sponsorship from sports gambling firms.

The move comes as a slight surprise and will certainly raise an eyebrow throughout the English game, but their reasoning behind it is straight forward enough.

According to reports from BBC Sport, Luton's chief executive Gary Sweet explains how the club "do not feel comfortable" about displaying such sponsorships across the players shirts or on advertising hoardings.

"We don't want to promote excessive gambling behaviour through our support base and our players," Sweet said.

"I don't think I'm going to be fired because I'm turning down that kind of income from our board, because together we all think and believe the same things as part of our principles."

Can Luton self-sustain?

Statistically, the number of clubs throughout the EFL and Premier League sponsored by sports gambling companies is very much on the rise, with 17 out of 24 Championship sides and nine of 20 Premier League teams opting for gambling firms.

Branching further out, the Champions League isn't so high in terms of number of team's sponsored by gambling firms. Only three sides that entered the competition last year had such sponsors and only one has this year, AEK Athens. The Greek giants are hardly going to rank high in terms of odds on Champions League winner for 2019 but they've been a regular in the tournament for a number of years.

Closer to home, there's no denying that a club of Luton's stature wouldn't benefit from extra funding via sponsorship deals but can they in anyway set a trend? Somewhat unlikely but it's fair to say the League One side are sticking to their principles.

"We don't feel comfortable with advertising or carrying a sponsorship of a gambling brand unless we are forced to do so obviously," Sweet added.

"Over the years we probably get an offer every year from at least one gambling firm.

"I would put it - certainly over the years of our custodianship - of well in excess of half a million pounds lost probably, at a guess, but we're very comfortable with that."

The reported half a million pounds 'loss' could have certainly gone a long way over the past few seasons, but Sweet's comments reflect just how much The Hatters are trying to steer themselves away from the seemingly obvious temptation.

What does the future hold for sponsors?

In today's society, football is more than just a sport. It's a thriving business. With the amount of money that is simply involved in the today's game, it makes it hard for the likes of Luton to dream about making a long-awaited top flight return. However, a return to England's second tier isn't miles away and the Championship odds will perhaps include Luton in the next year or two.

Until then, as unorthodox as their approach appears to be, it further highlights how potentially damaging gambling can be in the UK and in particular amongst young people.

With that in mind, it's fair to say that Luton will likely accumulate a series of admirers for their approach towards what is becoming a hotly disputed topic. But what does the future hold in store for sports gambling companies sponsoring teams?

Advertising is set to be affected as early as next year with a large number of live games only showing one advert at half-time and not showing any 'in-play' odds at all.

Potentially damaging from the gambling companies perspective and who knows what effect it could have on the game in the long run, but Luton can rest easy in the fact they'll still be trying to operate in a more self-efficient way.

It's an interesting approach from the Bedfordshire-based team and although they are missing out on the financial benefits now, they can be pleased with their stance on what is becoming a hotly disputed subject.



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