Big Step urges football clubs to change gambling sponsorship

A campaign is underway, urging football clubs to be more aware of the dangers of problem gambling. Leading the campaign is a recovering gambling addict from Manchester.

The 28 year old, James Grimes, wants clubs to review their relationship with gambling sponsors. Although James has had a gambling problem, he hasn’t gambled for almost a year, now he’s trying to help others.

The Big Step Challenge is a group of walkers who have set off to walk from the Etihad Stadium in Manchester to Old Trafford, taking in eight other clubs who have gambling sponsors on their shirts.

Last Monday the group arrive at Bolton Wanderers stadium, they plan to talk to officials, discussing what clubs can do to help at risk fans from developing major gambling problems.

The leader of the Big Challenge, James Grimes, said: “The Big Step challenge stems from my own experience as a recovering gambling addict and understanding that the exposure to gambling through football from a young age made this worse.”

Grimes wants football clubs to think about the part they might play in peoples gambling problems and consider what they might they might do to help.

A spokesman from the Bolton Wanderers said: “Bolton Wanderers fully supports responsible gambling – we are wholly behind the Big Step Challenge and wish the walkers well. “

According to recent research, the UK has 340,000 adult gambling addicts, with a further 55,000 aged 11-16, and 2 million more “at risk”. Research has also suggested that gambling addicts are 15 times more likely to take their own lives.

The group will be raising money for Gambling with Lives, a charity set up by families and friends of young men who had taken their lives as a result of gambling.

The Big Step Challenge also aims to raise awareness of the dangers of problem gambling, particularly for young people and football fans.