FORMER first minister Henry McLeish has called for a phasing out of gambling sponsorship in Scottish football as he hit out at a lack of “long-term thinking”.

It comes after English Premier League clubs collectively agreed to withdraw gambling sponsorship from the front of matchday shirts – a move which will come into effect at the end of the 2025-26 season.

Eight current Premier League clubs have gambling companies as their front-of-shirt sponsors.

Three Scottish Premiership clubs – Rangers, Celtic and Dundee United – currently have gambling firms displayed on their shirts.

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The SPFL has already stated that there are “no plans” for Scotland to copy England’s plans and it stressed that “individual sponsorships are a matter for each club”.

A statement given to BBC Scotland read: “For many SPFL clubs, sponsorship from gambling companies is a significant source of income which helps to support their business models and enables investment in many of the important community activities which clubs undertake.”

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, McLeish admitted that Scottish Football is “not in good shape” financially but that this was something the SFA and SPFL must collectively address.

The former FM said he was "disappointed" at the SPFL's response. 

He continued: “There’s no point in making the argument that we’re desperate for the money, we must take it from any source we have.

“What I’ve suggested is we have a phased programme to say look, let’s look for good sponsors, let’s look for sponsors that relate to what we’re trying to do in football.

“It’s just laziness. I believe that, looking at the finances, yes it can’t happen tomorrow or the next year or the next year but let’s have a phased programme to look at the implications of alcohol and gambling.

The National: Both Rangers and Celtic are sponsored by betting companiesBoth Rangers and Celtic are sponsored by betting companies (Image: Getty)

“Let’s look at the situation with clubs where the distribution of funds from the top to the bottom is not healthy and then join in the debate in Scotland about the damage that both of these issues can do.”

The former first minister stressed there was no “long-term thinking” in football in Scotland and that everything was a matter of “grab because we need it”.

Issues of gambling and alcohol sponsorship is something McLeish has spoken about before after research showed Scotland has more such ads in top-flight football than most European leagues.

Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay has also called for football teams to be mindful of their “huge influence on young people and their communities”.

She said: “This cannot just be the responsibility of individual clubs. Nobody should be bombarded with advertising from an addictive, damaging industry like gambling when they are going to watch their team.

“We recognised this when tobacco sponsorship was ended years ago, and we should recognise it here as well.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson has previously said: “We would encourage sporting organisations to diversify sponsorship away from the alcohol industry because it encourages young people to drink alcohol and can have a detrimental impact on those in recovery from problem drinking.

“We will shortly issue a public consultation setting out potential restrictions.”