The Football Fans and Betting Project – Preliminary Findings From an Early Intervention for Male Sports Bettors

Biggar, B. , Wardle, H. and Reith, G. (2023) The Football Fans and Betting Project – Preliminary Findings From an Early Intervention for Male Sports Bettors. 2023 Football Collective Conference, Leeds Beckett University, 25-26 November 2023.

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Sports betting is a growth area for the gambling industry with football fans becoming a key target of advertising. This demographic is also one at elevated risk from gambling harm. This paper reflects on the NIHR-funded Football Fans and Betting project (FFAB) – an innovative early health intervention with football fans (aged 18-55) who gamble regularly to reduce their betting. We will present preliminary findings from interviews and observations from the delivery of our 8-week intervention delivered by professional clubs’ community trust coaches in Leicester, Preston, Accrington, Blackpool, and Bolton. Planned as a feasibility study and pilot RCT, FFAB’s feasibility learnings led to the development of a different model than expected. Preliminary findings suggest (1) there is a need for an early health intervention for men looking to reduce their betting. (2) Overcoming shame and stigma are significant barriers to recruitment. (3) Conducting independent research with football clubs, given their complex sponsorship arrangements, presents multiple challenges. (4) While recruitment was easier in smaller more locally rooted clubs, they faced more challenges for resources which led to difficulties with participant retention. FFAB is the first intervention of its kind with gambling and has lessons for all early interventions, particularly in football clubs, and with underserved groups. Through engaging with football fans, we identified the need for more focused pre-recruitment work to grow understandings of gambling through public health-focused education. We believe more recognition and visibility of a public health approach to gambling in the wider population would help to de-stigmatise language and discussion of gambling and lessen the challenges of engaging the football fans we are targeting. We recommend a more grassroots, localised approach through community clubs for future early health interventions of this nature. In doing so, we believe that we could minimise many of the challenges we faced in delivery.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wardle, Professor Heather and Reith, Professor Gerda and Biggar, Dr Blair
Authors: Biggar, B., Wardle, H., and Reith, G.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
304799Football and gambling: a feasibility study and pilot for an intervention to reduce gambling involvement among football fansGerda ReithNational Institute for Health Research (NIHR)NIHR127665SHW - Health Economics & Health Technology Assessment