Recently Leigh Griffiths, the Celtic forward has become the latest footballer to acknowledge his gambling addiction.
His manager Brendan Rogers stated that the Scotland International was taking a break for a ‘number of months’ due to ‘issues outside the football environment’.
PFA Scotland Chief Executive Fraser Wishart has stated that there has been a number of players coming forward with all sorts of issues, to do with mental health, gambling and other addictions that lead to debt and insolvency problems. The PFA have a nationwide counselling network to assist players in need.
As Debt and Personal Insolvency Advisor to the PFA I frequently see gambling as a major cause of financial problems leading to unmanageable debt. This in turn leads to relationship breakdown, depression and other mental health issues as well as more tangible problems such as for example house repossession due to insolvency.
I frequently liaise with the head of the PFA counselling network Michael Bennett. It is often the case that a PFA member will need counselling support due to gambling and debt problems and help is on call immediately and can be accessed 24 hours a day.
My own personal view of footballers and gambling is that it certainly appears to be much more prevalent on a year to year basis, causing a significant financial and debt problems. I can only speculate as to the reasons but the blanket advertising by the gambling industry in sport in particular football could certainly lead to a rise in gambling addiction. It seems every shirt sponsor you look at now is a gambling company and there is a huge amount of gambling advertising during sporting events, both at the venues and in the media.
Personally, I think the industry needs to be regulated and the advertising restricted, like it was for the alcohol and tobacco industry many years ago. I think we will come to a point where we accept that gambling can destroy lives and the industry needs to be looked on differently and not to be socially accepted as it is now.
With regards to footballers and gambling, a young footballer coming through the ranks needs to be in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ with regard to his likelihood to gamble. He’s in an environment whereby there is widespread encouragement to gamble by the advertising of gambling as previously mentioned. He will usually have a high level of disposable income and plenty of time on his hands in the afternoons and evenings to set up an online account and become an habitual gambler. Smartphones make gambling extremely accessible and easy. Finally, he is working in an environment whereby all his older peers and colleagues will invariably be gamblers also.
I regularly see footballers whose lives have been devastated by gambling and sadly the road can often sometimes lead to suicide. I can certainly help with the debt and insolvency problems and offer the PFA member the most appropriate insolvency option, such as a Debt Management Plan (DMP), an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or even bankruptcy. Any of these debt solution options may be the best option for that member. Sadly, what I can’t help with is the gambling addiction which first needs to be resolved.
For debt advice following the resolution of a gambling addiction please call Farleys’ personal insolvency team on 0845 287 0939 or email us through our online enquiry form.