Sunderland and Newcastle may struggle to sign players if ban on gambling company shirt sponsors goes ahead, warns Minister

Newcastle and Sunderland both have kits sponsored by gambling firms
Newcastle and Sunderland both have kits sponsored by gambling firms

Sunderland and Newcastle fans may be among those left with concerns over future player signings if a ban on gambling companies sponsoring shirts went ahead

That was the sentiment of the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley in Parliament during an exchange with her Labour counterpart.

Labour wants to ban football shirt sponsorship deals with gambling firms after raising concerns about the "hidden epidemic of gambling addiction" in Britain and the level of exposure children have to gambling advertising.

Mr Bradley told Labour's Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson: "The (Labour) Government of which you were a supporter, and I think at times a member, was the Government which brought in the Gambling Act, which we are now taking the triennial review of.

"And that is why the triennial review is very important that we look at all evidence that is available.

"But I note over the summer that you made a statement about the sponsorship of football shirts and that a future Labour government, should there be one, would ban the sponsorship by gambling companies of football shirts."

Sunderland's shirts bear the logo of online gambling company Dafabet this season, while Newcastle's are sponsored by another Asian online betting firm, Fun88.

Ms Bradley, who represents the Staffordshire Moorlands constituency, which includes parts of Stoke-on-Trent, cited the city's Premier League club's association with Bet365.

Potters chairman Peter Coates is among the directors of the online gambling firm which sponsors Stoke's shirt and stadium.

She added: "I just want to make the point... I think the supporters of Stoke City would probably be quite concerned if they were to discover that their stadium perhaps could no longer be Bet365 and their shirt sponsor, and they may wonder where they would be able to purchase players from.

"I just wonder what it is that West Brom are doing in terms of their sponsorship at the moment."

West Brom's main sponsor for this season is China’s eco-town specialists Palm. They were previously sponsored by online casino operator UK-K8.com.

Mr Watson, who represents West Bromwich East, had told Ms Bradley: "We, on this side of the House, believe that recent research has shown that Britain has a hidden epidemic of gambling addiction.

"Moreover, research over the summer has shown that our children are exposed to gambling advertising more than ever before."

He added to Ms Bradley: "If you were to bring forward a new gambling bill fit for the digital age, we will support you in that. If not, a future Labour government will have to do it."