Tranmere Rovers has assembled a team to combat the potential increase in online gambling, recognising it as another threat to communities arising out of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rovers, The Big Step, Gamban, Tranmere captain Scott Davies and the NHS have come together to create what they say is 'a formidable team to help those who have been affected by gambling.'
Club Chairman Mark Palios said: “When gambling gets out of hand it is like a virus itself and has huge consequences for individuals and families, undermining the relationships and destroying the trust that underpins everything.
"With the boredom and isolation that results from the lockdown it has never been more important to help those that are affected or at risk and we felt the time to act was now.
Tranmere Rovers Chairman Mark Palios
"The project with The Big Step is not just a short-term fix, but will evolve into a longer-term initiative too.
"In the short term, we will be available as a confidential point that will help to direct people to the help that's available through our partners. That is not just for Tranmere Rovers fans but for all members of their families and our community generally.
"Once isolation is over and it is safe to do so, we shall be hosting a series of events and programmes to help supporters and the wider community to overcome their gambling issues as a permanent feature of our work in the community.
“As the first Football Club working alongside Gamban and teaming up with such other heavyweight organisations to combat (excessive) gambling, Tranmere Rovers has added an extra layer of support to its fans and the wider community and taken another step forward in the Game re-defining its relationship with gambling."
Tranmere goalkeeper and captain Scott Davies was keen to get involved in the project having experienced the impact that gambling can have.
He said: "As someone who has seen first-hand the impact of gambling in the past, I fully support the partnership between TRFC, The Big Step, Gamban and the NHS. Having an affection for sport can easily lead to gambling addiction and issues, so it's really important that football and other sports do all they can to support those affected.
“It's great to know that Tranmere fans now have somewhere to turn to get help through the Club, The Big Step and its partners."
The English Football League (EFL) is sponsored by a major betting company
Gambling in football has come in for heavy criticism in recent years, with the English Football League's three divisions all sponsored by a major betting company, but Birkenhead club Rovers are one of the few teams in the league that do not have any matchday betting terminals in their stadium.
James Grimes, Project Manager of anti-football gambling campaign The Big Step, said: “I’m delighted that TRFC have partnered with The Big Step and will be able to reach people who need support and put measures in place to help anyone affected by gambling related harm in the community.”
Matt Gaskell, Consultant Psychologist & Clinical Lead, NHS Northern Gambling Service
Matt Gaskell, Consultant Psychologist & Clinical Lead, NHS Northern Gambling Service, added: “It is fantastic to see how seriously Tranmere take the welfare of their fans, and that they understand the link between gambling and football is a harmful one.
“We will be on hand to offer support for those whose gambling is causing them real problems. We can also offer support to the family affected as well.”
If you or a loved one have been affected by gambling and wish to seek help, Tranmere Rovers is on hand to help.
The club will be taking calls in order to give people as much help as it can. All calls are confidential. Don’t suffer in silence. Call 0151 609 3325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org