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John Hartson calls for more action to curb influence of betting firms

Ex-Celtic striker also questions whether clubs are doing enough to protect players and fans from gambling addiction.

John Hartson calls for more action to curb influence of betting firms SNS Group
John Hartson is a recovering gambling addict having quit ten years ago.

Former Celtic striker John Hartson says government intervention is required to curb the influence that betting companies have on sport.

The Welshman also questioned whether clubs are doing enough to protect players and fans from developing a gambling addition, as he marks ten years since giving up the habit himself.

He told STV News: “There has to be a balance somewhere, there’s no point being hypocritical and criticising the gambling companies when the football clubs, at the same time, are taking big sums of money from the gambling companies for sponsorships on their shirts.

“It’s a problem in football and I think the clubs are doing their bit, but the big question is – are they doing enough?”

Hartson, 46, had a glittering career with Celtic, scoring 88 goals in 146 appearances. However, despite his starring role on the pitch, Hartson was hooked on gambling and struggled to shake the addiction.

“I gambled for a long time, I told lies, I let people down” he admitted. “You’re tested all the time. You put Coronation Street on in the house and during the adverts someone is promoting gambling.”

Along with Tony Marini, a senior specialist therapist in addiction and anxiety, Hartson is running a series of workshops to help those who may be struggling themselves.

He said: “I don’t think the guidance and the help was there for me. Besides that, did I want the guidance and the help? I wasn’t aware of it. 

“I was enjoying what I was doing, I earned big money and it didn’t affect my football at all.”