Exposure to Gambling and Alcohol Marketing in Soccer Matchday Programmes


The UK’s Premier League and Championship are two of the most well attended soccer leagues worldwide; however, little is known regarding exposure to gambling marketing through the matchday experience. The current study sought to quantify exposure to gambling and alcohol marketing, and responsible gambling messages within matchday programmes. Programmes for each team in the English Premier League and Championship were analysed across consecutive matchday weekends, made available to 1,269,404 match-going fans. Direct adverts for, and incidental exposure to, gambling, alcohol, and responsible gambling marketing or messages were coded. Direct adverts were counted, as were absolute counts and percentage of pages with incidental exposure. Programmes averaged 2.3 direct gambling adverts and 37.8 instances of incidental gambling marketing exposure. Incidental gambling marketing was found on 22.2% of pages. There was more gambling marketing than either alcohol marketing or responsible gambling messages. This was observed across: number of direct adverts (p < .001), incidents of exposure (p < .001) and the percentage of pages with exposure (p < .001). Teams with gambling shirt sponsors had more incidental marketing exposure, in both absolute count (p < .001) and percentage of pages (p < .001) but did not have more direct gambling adverts (p = .63). Incidental exposure to gambling marketing was present in 59.0% of children’s specific sections of programmes. There was greater exposure to gambling marketing in soccer matchday programmes. Gambling marketing was frequently evident in child specific sections of matchday programmes. Attending soccer matches and reading the matchday programme increases exposure to gambling.

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This study was funded by an internal University of East London QR fund grant. The funding body had no influence in the design of the study, or the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data or in writing the manuscript.

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CAF and SS were primarily responsible for data extraction and coding. All authors were responsible for data analysis, and manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Steve Sharman.

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Conflict of interest

SS is currently funded by the Society for the Study of Addiction. PN was included as a named researcher on a grant funded by GambleAware (2018), and in 2019 received travel and accommodation funding from the Spanish Federation of Rehabilitated Gamblers. CAF has no competing interests to declare. None of the interests declared had any influence on the design of the study, or the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data or in writing the manuscript.

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Sharman, S., Ferreira, C.A. & Newall, P.W.S. Exposure to Gambling and Alcohol Marketing in Soccer Matchday Programmes. J Gambl Stud 36, 979–988 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-019-09912-6

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  • Gambling
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Sponsorship
  • Pathological gambling
  • Disordered gambling