During its review of the Gambling Act 2005, the UK Government is considering banning betting firms from sponsoring football shirts, according to the Daily Mail.
A ban on televised gambling adverts and pitchside hoarding has also been taken into consideration, although this is not likely to be implemented at this stage.
The Government’s white paper is expected to come out at the end of 2021 or in early 2022. There will be a three-month consultation period before the bill goes to Parliament, which means there will be no impact on sports teams until 2023 at the earliest.
A source close to the review is quoted as saying: "We are pretty sure there is going to be an end to front-of-shirt advertising. Everybody is expecting that. Reformers want more but a lot of politicians are worried about the lower leagues. The Government thinks front-of-shirt will catch the headlines and it will feel like it has made a bold statement."
James Grimes, Founder of the Big Step campaign (which is against the relationship between football and gambling) said: "A shirt sponsorship ban would be a welcome and significant acceptance of the harm caused by gambling advertising in football. But this single measure would be relatively redundant if adverts are still permitted pitchside, during match broadcasts and online."
This season, nine of the 20 English Premier League clubs and six teams in the Championships have gambling companies as their front-of-shirt sponsors, thanks to deals worth an estimated £100m ($136m) a year combined.
If the Government does impose a front-of-shirt sponsorship ban, it will mark the biggest change to advertising in the sport since tobacco promotion was outlawed in the UK in 2003.
EFL Chairman Rick Parry commented: “The last thing we need at the moment is for restrictions on other valuable sources of income because they can’t be just switched overnight. If not betting, which market should we go to?”