(Reuters) - The Football Association (FA) said it would review a part of its media rights sales process after the British government urged it to reconsider the decision to sell FA Cup broadcast rights to a gambling website through a third party.
English soccer’s governing body agreed a media rights deal with IMG in January 2017 and bookmaker Bet365 then acquired the rights to show FA Cup games live from the 2018-19 season, before the FA had ceased all commercial agreements with gambling firms in June that year.
In a statement to the British media on Wednesday, the FA said it now would review this element of the media rights sales process ahead of tendering rights from the 2024-25 season.
“This deal was agreed before we made a clear decision on the FA’s relationship with gambling companies in June 2017 when we ended our partnership with Ladbrokes,” the BBC quoted the FA as saying.
Britain’s secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan said in a tweet “things have moved on since the contract was signed” and hoped the governing body would reconsider its relationship with the bookmaker.
Sports minister Nigel Adams added in a tweet that governing bodies had to be mindful of the impact that problem gambling can have on the most vulnerable sections of society.
Bet365 last weekend showed 23 FA Cup third-round games on its website and app, with matches available to anyone who had placed a bet or deposited money into their account 24 hours prior to the start of the clash.
“Bet365 does not sponsor the FA or the FA Cup and does not have any direct commercial agreement with the FA,” the bookmaker said in a statement to the BBC.
“Bet365, along with multiple other operators, has the right to live stream certain FA Cup matches through a long standing media rights deal with IMG.
“There is no obligation on Bet365’s customers to place a bet on any FA Cup match to enjoy the live streams at Bet365.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis