The A to Z Of Modern Football: B is for Betting


Has betting only helped to erode all that was once good and pure about football? Today on the blog Greg Theoharis continues his A to Z of Modern Football. Today B is for Betting.


It’s not as if I’ve got anything against betting. Like many, I enjoy putting a pound or two on a long shot for the Grand National. So it’s not a question of morality.

Likewise I’m an unrepentant smoker, so chastising people for a vice would seem somewhat hypocritical. We’re all free to choose our own personal downfalls after all.

What I do object to however, is having to endure Ray Winstone gruffly telling me it’s all about the “in-play” during every half-time ad break. Or worse than the sight of a formerly great actor descending into the realms of caricature, there’s the equally anodyne and tooth-gritting presence of that screaming Italian who’s recently taken to disavowing Chris Kamara of his dignity. How I long for thirty seconds or so of Zizou taking a drag of a Gauloises and exhaling with effortless Gallic cool into a monochrome Paris night. But that won’t happen any time soon.

I understand why people have an urge to bet. It’s a quick fix, an adrenalin rush that could be the difference between having a weekend knees-up down the local boozer or huddling round the gas fire, drinking tea and eating toast as Gary Lineker’s enamel briefly brightens your miserable Saturday night.

Of course the picture I paint verges on the romantic; it’s all very ‘60s kitchen sink. The reality is that when taken to obsessive levels, betting can be as destructive a force as alcohol and tobacco. Football cares not for this though. As ever, it chases the most lucrative corporate deals that guarantee maximum exposure to a captive audience for the sponsor. Increasingly, we see more clubs parading the names of a host of betting websites. Football however, is not in the morality business and it would be ludicrous to hold football clubs up as paragons of the Corinthian ideal. And of course, we as fans need not take any notice.

As I said, I don’t have any moral argument against betting. My issue is with those people who claim to support a club then go on to put accumulators on a number of their team’s rivals. The argument against would suggest that there’s no harm with earning of few quid out of such wagers. However, peoples’ perceptions change when there’s money to be had and with little effort involved.

I suppose that with the gradual erosion of peoples’ ties with a club, with their continued alienation and dis-enfranchisement from the game, that when they see their ‘heroes’ consistently rub the very concept of loyalty into their replica shirts with shameless impunity, what difference does it make if you’re a Spurs fan with twenty pounds on a 10-1 bet for Gervinho to score the first goal for Arsenal?

Of course, that would never happen. Firstly, because we’re talking about Gervinho here. But more importantly, in the end, existence is all about self-preservation. Morals increasingly seem a very old-fashioned concept. Football seems to have understood this a long time ago.

Depressing right? Well, nobody said this journey through modern football was going to be an episode of One Foot In The Grave. Interesting fact: Ray Winstone once appeared in that show. Maybe he was never as good as I thought he was.



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I have a sofa. I watch football on it. Then I write. Every Sunday.