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FA criticised over third round betting app broadcasts

The FA has received criticism for allowing FA Cup games to be broadcast on Bet365’s website and smartphone app as part of its international broadcast deal.

Twenty-three of this year’s third round ties, all those that did not kick off at 3.01pm on Saturday, were available to watch on Bet365’s platforms last weekend.

The broadcasts were part of Bet365’s deal with IMG, the sports conglomerate that bought all ‘international’ rights to the competition back in 2016 as part of a six-year deal which began last season.

MPs, government ministers and high-profile figures in football have criticised the “bet-and-watch” streaming deal which provided the only legal means for many fans to see their team play in the third round.

Tracey Crouch MP, a football coach and former-sports minister said: “I think this is deeply embarrassing. There is an intrinsic link between gambling and poor mental health.” Secretary of state for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan said she hoped the FA would reconsider the arrangement.

FSA chair and FA Council supporter representative Malcolm Clarke said: “This deal highlights the major concerns fans have about the growth of gambling in football – governing bodies need to take these concerns seriously.

“Through our partnership with GambleAware, we are taking real steps to promote safer gambling in football and we call on the FA to get around the table on the issue.

“There is much more to be done to protect fans from the risks of gambling.”

The FA has said it will “review this element of the media rights sales process ahead of tendering rights from the 2024-25 season”. Back in 2017, the governing body announced it was cutting ties with gambling firms, ending its partnership with lead sponsor Ladbrokes.

These revelations are the latest in a line of criticism aimed at the FA’s broadcast deal for its flagship competition, reportedly worth £820m over its six-year duration.

Supporters have had to deal with more cup ties being moved to accommodate the wishes of the FA’s international broadcasters. Fixtures have become spread out across third round weekend as only nine of the 32 games kicked off in the traditional 3pm slot, meaning thousands of travelling fans have been inconvenienced.

FSA vice chair Tom Greatrex, also a fan representative on the FA Council, said: “This is a terrible consequence of rights deal.

“The FA’s good work in the third round, highlighting the challenges of mental health issues particular amongst young men, risks being undermined by this aspect of the deal.

“It’s another example of where getting revenue in and protecting the integrity of the Cup are misaligned.”

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
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  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • SD Europe