The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has reiterated its support for football in the UK – particularly the lower leagues of the pyramid – after the government announced that the so-called ‘freedom day’ will be delayed.

Opening with clips of this year’s highly-anticipated English Football League (EFL) play-offs, which accommodated supporters at Wembley Stadium, the BGC highlighted the significant sum it contributes to Championship, League One and League Two clubs.

The ‘biggest fixture in the EFL calendar’ – the Sky Bet Championship play-off final – saw Brentford edge Swansea City 2-0 to win promotion to the Premier League.

“Win or lose, it excites and inspires us,” the BGC clip began. “The relationship between football and betting is age-old. From taking a punt on the pools to betting online, 30 million of us enjoy a flutter.

“The betting and gaming industry is proud to support football – from grassroots to the top-flight.

“BGC members support the EFL and its clubs to the tune of more than £40 million. That’s vital funding that has helped sustain football through the dark days of the pandemic.”

Citing a statement from the EFL, which emphasised that the support provided by betting operators ‘is as important now as it has ever been’, the BGC turned to the grassroots game.

“Struggling lower league clubs are also benefiting,” the video added. “Entain is investing millions in grassroot sport to help clubs hit hard by the pandemic.

Stoke City owners bet365 are investing in the local community, giving young people a sporting chance.

“Safer gambling is at the heart of our support for football. Our members work with former footballers to promote safer gambling. And the good news is that problem gambling levels are low and stable.”

“Strict rules around betting adverts and sponsorship already exist – including a ban on company logos on kids’ shirts. An independent study found no evidence that sponsorship of clubs or leagues influence participation in betting.

“But this hasn’t stopped BGC members taking further action to protect the public.”

The BGC identified some of the key directives introduced to combat problem gambling, including a whistle ban on TV advertising during live sport before 9pm, and delivering a 97% reduction in the number of TV betting commercials seen by children at that time, along with new social media rules for clubs to further protect young people,

“Support from the betting industry allows TV channels to show more live football than ever,” it continued. “This means millions more get to enjoy the beautiful game.

“A small number bet more than they can afford – it’s our goal to help everyone bet safely and responsibly. One problem gambler is too many.”

BGC stresses ‘age-old’ relationship between football and betting