Football authorities accused of naivety over alcohol sponsorship

The Premier League and Football League have been accused of naivety over their claims about the impact of alcohol sponsorship on young people.

Manchester United win the Carling Cup
Manchester United win the Carling Cup

At the House of Commons Health Committee inquiry into alcohol yesterday (15 October), Dr Doug Naysmith, committee member and Labour MP for Bristol North West, says the football bodies’ claims that shirt sponsorship does not lead to increased consumption were “naïve”, adding that sponsorship linked alcohol with success.

William Bush, director of communications and public policy at the Premier League, argued that it operates within industry body The Portman Group’s code of practice and Advertising Standards Authority regulations.

Bush says shirt sponsorship, perimeter advertising or tournament sponsorship is not “targeted” and is no different from press or outdoor advertising that can also be seen by young people.

“We are not targeting and we do not sail close to the wind”, he says.

Stewart Thomson, commercial director of the Football League, says sponsorship is about activation adding it “works with sponsors to make sure that is done responsibly”.

The Football League earns about a third of its sponsorship revenue from alcohol brands with the majority of this coming from Carling’s title sponsorship of the League Cup. The Premier League figure is currently less than a third, Bush says.

Other commercial arrangements clubs from both leagues have with drinks brands include pouring rights and official supplier agreements.

Last month, the British Medical Association called for a ban on alcohol sponsorship of any sporting event.

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