Football Fans and Betting Project Kicks off in Glasgow

Fans betting inside stadia

Football Fans and Betting Project Kicks off in Glasgow

The gambling industry trades on men’s passion for football to draw them into gambling and to encourage them to believe their knowledge of the sport gives them an advantage. Action is needed to counterbalance these trends with interventions that reach football fans who feel they may be losing control of their gambling habits.

Sports betting and is a big growth area for the gambling industry. It has increased dramatically since the 2005 Gambling Act and men who watch football, amongst other sports, have become a key target for gambling industry advertising – particularly through mobile advertising and sports sponsorship.

Gambling problems affect approximately 430,000 people in Britain, with a further 2 million likely to be at risk. People living on low incomes, with insecure work, in deprived neighbourhoods and with other health problems are most vulnerable to gambling and gambling advertising.

The most serious problems can result in suicide. 1 in 3 people who go for treatment for gambling have attempted suicide. Many more cannot access services due to capacity, the need to travel long distances and in some cases, there is no local support at all. Men are five times more likely to have gambling problems than women, and younger men involved in sports are particularly at-risk.

The Football Fans and Betting (FFAB) project is a two-year research programme funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). FFAB aims to support men who feel they may be at risk of gambling problems to spend less time and money on betting, and so improve their finances, wellbeing, self-esteem and close relationships.

FFAB will draw on learning from the highly successful Football Fans in Training (FFIT) and European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) research projects which have harnessed the power of football and the connection fans have with their clubs to motivate individuals to change their lifestyles – and incur significant health benefits.

The first phase of FFAB will involve consultation with a range of stakeholders including gamblers, sports fans, their friends and families and coaches to understand gambling behaviour and what mechanisms can be used to nudge individuals in the right direction. This will be followed by a feasibility study of the programme with two football clubs in the North West of England.

The second phase of FFAB will involve the delivery of a pilot study with another 4 football clubs that will be evaluated through a randomised control trial. Through group sessions delivered at clubs by football coaches and gambling addiction experts, participants enrolled on FFAB will use a new smartphone app and be sensitised to a toolkit of behaviour change techniques and tools such as self-monitoring and goal-setting skills to help them manage their relationship with gambling.

The Football Fans and Betting project is a two-year research project funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The project will be led by researchers at the University of Glasgow with input from a wide range of stakeholders such as academics, charities and counselling services. For more information about FFAB, please email:

Michael Viggars

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