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Chelsea FC Commissions Gambling Experts to Educate Young Players

Premier League leaders have hired experts to warn young players of the dangers of gambling addiction

Chelsea FC has commissioned a group of risk awareness experts to work with its young players to warn them of the dangers of gambling addiction.

The Premier League leaders asked EPIC Risk Management to deliver gambling awareness education to their elite academy squads at under 16, under 18 and under 23 level.

It comes as Premier League star Joey Barton is handed an 18-month ban for placing 1,260 bets on football matches over the course of decade, sparking a huge debate on the nature of problem gambling in the sport.

EPIC’s CEO Paul Buck said he had been “very impressed” by Chelsea’s pro-active approach to the problem. “We look forward to working with them to ensure their young players make informed choices around gambling and go on to have fantastic careers.” he said.

The club is aware of the gambling problem in football – they take the risk seriously

Buck and his colleagues have already visited Stamford Bridge to give a talk to Chelsea’s senior squad and staff.

“The club is aware of the gambling problem in football and sport more widely, and they take the risk seriously,” he told The Big Issue. “So they were happy to have us in. We told our stories, let them understand what the addiction is, and the potential vulnerability to it. Like many of the sports clubs we’ve visited, everyone was switched on to what we had to say.”

The work of EPIC was covered by The Big Issue earlier this month. Buck, a former bank manger who spent 11 months in prison after stealing to pay off his own gambling debts, launched the socially-driven business back in 2013.

EPIC is also working with both the Professional Cricketers’ Association and the Rugby Players’ Association to deliver education programmes to top-level sides in the sports.

A recent Professional Players Federation survey revealed professional athletes are at least three times more likely to be problematic gamblers than the general population.

“You have excess downtime, excess money,” Buck explained. “You want the adrenaline rush but want to avoid the drink or drug-taking that affects performance. So gambling is what they turn to.”

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