Thursday, 11 February 2010

Education, education, education

I'm delighted that we've signed a deal with the Professional Players' Federation, for a number of reasons.

First of all, it was fantastic that we were able to form a coalition with other members of the betting industry very quickly. They turned around the request to join us in very short order, which says a lot for intra-industry relationships, and for their commitment to working with sport. Hats off to Clive Hawkswood at the RGA, Mike O'Kane at Ladbrokes and John Coates at bet365.

Second, I'm looking forward to working with the PPF. Over the years, I've had a number of meetings with Simon Taylor and Brendon Batson in the hope that one day we'd get something done between us, and now that we have, I've got high expectations of what relationships we might forge with the CEOs of the other sports players' bodies. We already have a good working relationship with Kevin Darley at the Professional Jockeys' Association, whose doctor we fund in conjunction with the Injured Jockeys' Fund.

And third, I think that this deal will be the major driver towards fulfilling what, for me, was the major recommendation to come out of the Parry report which was published at the beginning of last week, and which I have been told off for not having yet commented on!

I'm surprised there has been as little reaction to that report as there has. I think it's fair to say that the meetings of the panel were more fractious than Rick Parry himself would have expected when he accepted the job of chairing it at the request of Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe.

But, despite there being moments when I think we probably all felt we would never achieve consensus, we ended up with what in my view was a good report. Certainly, I think it is one which the betting industry will do all it can to make a success. And for me, the single most important recommendation that came from it was the need for education of players. As Brendon Batson says in the PPF's press release, "would-be corrupters...can only access sport if they can find away to get to participants". So today's announcement, of a deal which has been worked on for a little while and which was signed just before the report's publication, is, I think, an extremely positive step.



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