Tiger Woods has been learning a few salient lessons over the last few weeks. One is always to delete saucy text messages from your mobile phone; another is never let your wife get hold of your golf clubs and another still is, if you’re going to cheat on yer Missus at least do it with someone goodlooking.
But the other thing Woods might have learned is that you can’t have your cake and eat it. Actually, that expression never did make much sense to me. After all, why else would you have a cake. What I mean I, you can’t have it both ways. Oh dear, in the case of Tiger, that one doesn’t work either.
Well, the point is it does in the case of Nottingham Forest. Now, I don’t have anything against Forest as a football club. Au contraire. The East Midlands club serve as a sepia-tinted reminder of how football used to be in the good old days, when you could get promoted from the second tier one season, clinch the title the next, and then win back-to-back European Cups all on the back of Brian Clough’s alcohol-inspired pre-match drinking sessions. Alas it will never happen again in my lifetime.
What the Championship club have done to wind me up, though, is to take up shirt sponsorship with Victor Chandler. Now there’s nothing wrong with that either. The problem is that while Forest are content to take the six-figure sum for sporting the Gibraltar-based bookmaker’s name, they have decided to drop the logo from kids’ replica shirts.
“If adults ask for their child’s shirt to carry the logo, the club will decline on the basis of the gambling commissions guidelines and our moral obligation,” spouts Brandon Furse, chief jobsworth at Nottingham Forest.”
The Football Association wrote to the country’s top clubs in June reminding them of the terms of the code, introduced in 2007. The guidelines state: ‘The advertising of adult-only gambling products or product suppliers should never be targeted at children’.
“A clear example of this would be the use of logos on children’s sports shirts, which would not be permitted under the terms of this code,” continues Furse.
Which, in short is utter crap. The club is not legally bound to take this step. Wolves, for example, give adults the choice whether or not they want the SportingBet logo included on the shirt. Again, still wrong, but at least not quite so condescendingly self-important.
The fact is you pays yer money, you makes yer choice. If the money is sponsor’s good enough for the club then the club is good enough for the sponsor. Otherwise, if I were Victor Chandler which, thank the Lord I’m not, I would be be telling Forest to go fuck themselves.
Apart from anything else when you’re a kid and you wear a replica shirt it is because you want to look like your heroes. Which means you want to wear your hair in the same way, roll your socks down in the same way and have the identical same shirts to your favourite player, including name, number and sponsor – not some patsy watered down version.
I remember when I was a kid my Mum got me a dodgy Arsenal shirt from the market and a separate yellow square and cannon she ironed on herself. She must have thought I wouldn’t notice the fact that yellow squares didn’t go on the real red home shirt, bless her, but how wrong she was. The only time the kids stopped taking the piss out of my crappy shirt was when they found out my middle name was Luigi. Ah, happy days.
What’s more, having the name of a sports bookmaker emblazoned on your shirt is no less likely to make a kid take up internet gambling than wearing a Liverpool shirt with Heineken on the front will suddenly convince them to go down the off-licence and buy a crate of lager.
At a time when the recession is beginning to bite, bookmakers are one of the few sectors still happy to stump up the cash to sponsor football clubs. Bodog,188Bet, Boylesports, SportingBet and Mansion are all examples of bookies who have shelled out big money for deals with Fulham, Wigan and Bolton, Sunderland, Wolves and Tottenham respectively.
Admittedly, they aren’t just doing it out of the goodness of their heart. But they are doing it for exposure – and if that means appearing on kids’ replica shirts then so be it. Sports betting is legal in this country so can we all please stop the beautiful game being run by PC numpties and get a grip, please?