English FA to review allowing betting firms to air cup games

LONDON (AP) — The English Football Association is reviewing its decision to allow broadcast rights for FA Cup games to be sold for streaming by betting companies.

Online betting platforms are currently the only way to watch some FA Cup games in Britain despite the FA announcing two years ago that it would end partnerships with gambling firms.

While Bet365 also aired games last season, criticism of the deal came about because the FA used third-round games last weekend to campaign around mental health.

Claire Murdoch, a mental health director at the National Health Service, called the betting company’s streaming of FA Cup games “another own-goal from the gambling industry.”

The British government weighed into the discussion on Wednesday, with culture secretary Nicky Morgan writing on Twitter that “things have moved on since the contract was signed & I hope they will re-consider.”

The FA is locked into a broadcasting contract that was signed before it decided to terminate a sponsorship with Ladbrokes amid concerns about the prevalence of gambling in soccer.

The FA’s contract is not directly with the Bet365 company. The governing body has a media rights agreement with IMG, which then sells the rights under terms agreed in 2017 that allow deals with betting firms.

“This deal was agreed before we made a clear decision on the FA’s relationship with gambling companies in June 2017 when we ended our partnership with Ladbrokes,” the FA said in a statement. “We will review this element of the media rights sales process ahead of tendering rights from the 2024-25 season.”

IMG is in a joint venture with The Associated Press, operating the SNTV sports video news agency which carries footage from FA Cup games.

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