Former Arsenal and England legend Paul Merson is to front a new doc for BBC1 on football’s relationship with gambling.

Merson, a recently reformed gambling addict, sets out to understand why his life has been so badly blighted by gambling, and explores the relationship between football and gambling at a time when it’s never been more urgent to question the industry’s place in the world of sport.

Paul is now on the path to recovery, but he wants to understand the triggers that have led to his addiction. To do this, he’s undergoing therapy and meeting scientists who have brand new theories in addiction science.

And whilst the government moots the question of whether gambling laws should be changed, Paul wonders if an entire generation of young Brits is at risk of following the same, dangerous path that he trod. Advertising and sponsorship by betting firms has exploded; the industry now spends £1.5 billion a year on advertising, with 80 percent of all gambling marketing spend now online.

Paul says: “If this film helps just one other person affected by the issue of problem gambling, it’s been worthwhile”.

Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Science, said: “Watching England reach the finals of the Euros has been a dream come true. But, as we watch, it’s impossible to escape the constant marketing campaigns from the betting industry. With fans and players at risk of being drawn into addiction, it’s the perfect time for Paul to explore the uncomfortable relationship between football and the gambling industry – and ask if it needs to change.”

Paul Merson: Football, Gambling And Me (w/t), a 1×60’ for BBC One and iPlayer, is made by Little Gem. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Director, Factual Arts and Classical Music Television and Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Science. The Executive Producer is Ben Gale and the Commissioning Editor is Sreya Biswas.

Jon Creamer

Share this story

Share Televisual stories within your social media posts.
Be inclusive: is open access without the need to register.
Anyone and everyone can access this post with minimum fuss.