The English professional soccer club AFC Wimbledon, based in Merton, London, has announced its support for The Big Step, a campaign by the charity Gambling with Lives that aims to end all gambling advertising in soccer. The club’s decision to back the initiative comes as the 35th team to support The Big Step campaign, following a vote that received overwhelming support from 79% of its 1,199 participating members.
AFC Wimbledon’s decision to support The Big Step campaign follows discussions with members of The Dons Trust and joins other teams such as Bolton Wanderers, Luton Town, Tranmere Rovers, and Forest Green Rovers in the movement against gambling advertising in soccer.
The move comes at a time when major changes are planned for the regulated gambling sector in the UK; however, the recent review of the Gambling Act in the country did not focus on the topic of gambling advertising in soccer.
Despite this, the Premier League has confirmed plans to phase out front-of-shirt gambling sponsorships over the next few years, with the change expected to come into effect starting with the 2026/27 season. However, concerns about the potential increase in gambling addictions persist, with a recent study revealing that sports fans were subjected to a staggering 11,000 gambling messages during the opening weekend of the Premier League season in August.
Michele Little, a Dons Trust board member, praised the club’s decision to repeal sponsorships and advertising from gambling operators, highlighting the club’s commitment to being a force for good and serving communities. Little emphasized that the backing of the fans in signing up to The Big Step reflects the club’s dedication to ending the harm caused by gambling advertising in football.
Tom Fleming, communications manager at Gambling with Lives and The Big Step, expressed excitement about AFC Wimbledon’s support for the initiative and emphasized the negative impact of gambling advertising. He highlighted the charity’s continued hope for government changes to the sector to ensure the protection of sports fans from the harms of gambling advertising.