Football Untold: Ex-players tell all about the effects of gambling harms

Date posted: 24th April 2023 Football Untold: Ex-players tell all about the effects of gambling harms thumbnail image

NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) is proud to sponsor a new podcast exploring the relationship between professional footballers and gambling related harms.

Alongside the Beacon Counselling Trust, the ICB is jointly sponsoring the new six-part series ‘Football Untold’ hosted by award winning journalist Mick Coyle.

The podcast features several former and current professional footballers who have chosen to share their stories of addiction, deceit and finding a new life away from betting.

The series will also look at the macho culture of dressing rooms, the stigma which still surrounds gambling related harms, and signpost listeners to help and support if they’ve been impacted by the issues raised.

Gambling can not only lead to harming an individual, but their families, friends and wider society. It can negatively impact a person’s mental health and even lead to suicide.

Among those sharing their stories in series one:

  • Former Wales international and Coventry, Tranmere, and Wigan striker Simon Haworth, whose addiction to gambling escalated when he retired from the game.
  • Former Chair of the PFA and ex-Burnley, Blackpool, Preston, Leeds and Watford defender Clarke Carlisle, whose addiction issues played their part in a suicide attempt.
  • Current non-league player Sam Wedgbury, who is six years gambling-free after losing large sums of money in his early career.
  • And an international defender currently playing in the Championship – who has only just begun to open about his experiences.

Host Mick Coyle said: “It’s an honour that these players feel comfortable enough to share their journeys with me and our audience of football fans.

“Their stories are all different, but each one will open your eyes to the realities of life as a
problem gambler. I hope hearing these conversations will help people recognise if they might
have a problem, but also to help them find the words to express what they’re experiencing so they can get the right sort of help.

“Football fans in general will be fascinated by the realities of life as a footballer. People presume it’s an easy one. Football Untold tells a different story.”

Simon Haworth said: “I hope Football Untold can highlight how easy it is to become a compulsive gambler and to raise awareness of what constitutes an addicted gambler.

“I’m really pleased my fellow professionals are joining me to talk about their experience, and I believe our stories will resonate with football fans everywhere – if we can openly talk about our mental health and addiction problems then we can spread a powerful message about getting help.

“Football Untold is a safe place to listen and talk about these issues, raise awareness, and
remove the stigma about struggling with mental health problems, and I’m proud to be part of

The first episode, featuring Clarke Carlisle, released on 24 April 2023 will be followed by weekly releases until 29 May.

Clarke has previously supported the Let’s Keep Talking suicide prevention campaign in Lancashire and South Cumbria and has openly spoken about how gambling was a huge factor in his attempts to take his own life.

In a joint statement Helen Parry, one of NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB’s suicide preventions leads, and Neil Platt, clinical director at Beacon Counselling Trust, and Northwest lead for the new National Gambling Support Network, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Simon, Clarke and Sam, and others, for sharing their personal experiences which we know will resonate with so many other people – particularly young men.

“Their accounts highlight the relationship between football betting, gambling related harms and suicidal thoughts. Alarmingly one in five people experiencing gambling related harm have thought about suicide in the last year. Sadly, many do not reach out for support or in fact know where to go for that support.

“Nobody sets out to experience gambling related harms, but we understand things can quickly spiral out of control for some people and that gambling can become all consuming. We want people to know help is out there and the sooner they reach out, the sooner they can start to turn things around.”

Visit the Football Untold website for more information and to listen to the podcast

If you’re affected by gambling harms visit for free help and support or our gambling harms page.

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