Sweet reveals Luton have turned down around £1m from betting companies

Luton Town's directors watch on at Barnsley recently
Luton Town's directors watch on at Barnsley recently

Luton Town chief executive Gary Sweet has revealed the Hatters have turned down around £1m from betting companies since owners 2020 took over the club in July 2008.

Over half of the clubs in England's top two divisions promote gambling firms on their shirts, but that won't be an option for the Hatters as long as 2020 are in charge, regardless of the amount of money offered.

Speaking on the Jim White and Natalie Sawyer show on Talksport yesterday, he said: “Now we’re in the Championship, I think we could get another 200,000 quid a year for our shirts maybe 400.

“We’ve had three or four offers this season, that’s the reason I don’t know how much it is, because we’ve not even taken it to the stage of ‘go on, how much?’

"There’s no point, but over the 10,11 years we’ve had the club, it’s probably over a million quid now."

With Town now in the second tier of English football, and advertising opportunities increasing all the time, Sweet confirmed that their stance won’t chance regardless of what division they are in, confirming they had even turned offers for the hoardings around the pitch this term.

He continued: “Money doesn’t buy principle and it doesn’t matter where we are, when we become a Premier League club, I say that a bit brazenly, but when we become a Premier League club, that’s a position won’t change.

“We’ve introduced electronic advertising boards this season and we’ve sold those to advertisers that do not include gambling.

“In fact we had a board meeting four months ago, where doing my duty, I have to put these challenges to the board and said, ‘look we’ve taken a stance on gambling, we can get another 40, 50 grand per year, maybe even 90 grand a year if we included gambling on the electronic boards.’

“And I quite harshly had my head bitten off my one of our board members to say, ‘we’re not going back on our principles.’

“So it is absolutely right, but every so often we need to just check and balance that.”

On just why the Hatters have been so immovable in the position they have opted to take regarding betting companies, Sweet said: "Firstly, we’re not anti gambling, there’s nothing wrong with gambling, it’s what we don’t want to do is advertise gambling to children and be responsible for advertising gambling to children.

“We have a social problem in the UK, roughly one in seven, nearly half a million children between the age of 11 and 16 that gamble regularly online, using the casinos, and roughly there’s one in 45 that actually have a problem from that.

“So from our point of view, if you look at the number of our supporters that includes and those people in and around our community that we can reach through our advertising, we really wouldn’t want to be responsible for any of those addictions getting worse.”

Although the fact that the Championship is sponsored by Sky Bet, a successful betting brand, means that Town do have some gambling advertising on show in Kenilworth Road, Sweet knows there is little they can do by comply in this instance.

He added: “We have to display that gambling brand in our stadium because it's a contractual delivery that we must fulfil.

“We’re not happy about it particularly, but if our supporters want to go and have a bet, then as long as they do it responsibly, then absolutely fine, crack on.

“We don’t profess to be angels, a number of our board members gamble, it’s just that particular issue of advertising to children.”