Premier League players 'underperform because of worries over poker losses on team bus'
Premier League players are underperforming on the pitch because of worries arising from poker games on the team coach or at hotels before matches, according to new research.
Top footballers are also using online betting sites to conceal their gambling from their partners, the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Birmingham will be told today.
The revelation comes barely a day after Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis admitted 12 breaches of Football Association rules governing betting on matches.
Graeme Law, of the University of Chester, interviewed 34 current and former professional footballers, including international and Premier League players, as well as those in lower leagues.
Players talked about how worries caused by gambling had impaired performances on the pitch.
“Players were unable to function to the level expected, and this leads to resentment in the team about their gambling,” said Law, who carried out the research as part of his PhD and is due to present his findings at the BSA conference today.
One Premier League player told him: “I have lost a lot and I had a stinker because it’s all I thought about during the game.” Another Premier League player said of a team-mate: “On the way to the game, he lost about two grand, and he was only 18. He had a shocker in the game.” One former Championship player said: “I have seen a lot of players lose a lot of money and when they get to the game, they have a bad experience or a bad game.
“When I became a manager, I tried to ban cards ... but you can’t really stop it.”
Law added: “Players gamble as a way of relieving the boredom on journeys to away games and after training on pre-season tours. Contrary to popular opinion, their actions are heavily regulated and constrained, so they get easily bored.”
Law also found that players turned to online gambling in order to keep their habit secret from their partners. “Previous gambling environments were more social and encouraged group interaction, whereas the internet now allows gambling to be done in private,” he said.
One international and Premier League player told him: “I liked to bet on the bus, but it got worse when I could bet online. I was able to do it all the time with no one knowing. I lost a lot. My wife found out after a year or so and she got me help and it’s under control now. It’s the culture to gamble in football and it can get dangerous when it grips you.”