Flutter For Tom, Dick And Harry
From A Special Correspondent
The sensational decisions of the Football League which were announced towards the end of last week have aroused afresh intense controversy about football gambling. Comments both on the side of the League and on that of pool promoters have shown that the war between them will not be treated as a joke. The promoters of pool betting are already devising means to. justify their claim that no evil comes of this form of gambling and in fact they point out that not only is the working-man benefited by finding something to brighten his life but also work is provided for many thousands who might otherwise be unemployed.
This decision of the League is being opposed by several important clubs, who may present a petition to the courts for an injunction against the League on the grounds that the decision was contrary to the League's own rules. Among the more important clubs opposing the League's action are Manchester City, Sunderland, and Everton.
HOW TO SPEND UP TO ONE SHILLING A WEEK
A specially convened meeting in Manchester of the Football League clubs has decided not to proceed with any plan whereby the football pools and coupon firms would be required to pay monetary contributions for the use of the league's fixtures, copyright in which, in the opinion of counsel, is established in the Football League.
It is evident that the feeling is not only against any participation in such a scheme but that the League Management Committee should extend their action in opposition and do so without delay.
For the moment there is no interference whatever with the pools and coupons. The League Management Committee acting on the meeting's decision will now seek to prevent pools and coupon firms from using any Football League fixture-lists.
The decision of the Football League clubs is the climax to lengthy discussions by the League Management Committee concerning the coupons and pools.
Early in the season a definite approach was made to the committee by Mr. Watson Hartley, a Liverpool accountant, who presented a scheme whereby the league fixtures could be made copyright and a licensing fee charged for their use by all pool and coupon firms and also advertising
Large Sums Involved
It was pointed out that large sums of money were attracted to the pools from the use of the league's fixtures, and it was urged that some part of this money could be obtained and used for the general good of the game. which has a big proportion of needy clubs. Many, in fact, find it hard to make ends meet.
Under the scheme one proposal was that fixtures could only be used by such firms as the league allowed and chose to license, and then at a fee.
Such large sums have been going into the pools that it was suggested that this fee would reach a very high figure. The amounts named ran to as much as £60,000 a year.
The League Management Committee examined the position thoroughly and finally decided, after meetings in London during the week-end, to call a special conference of the league clubs. This was summoned by telegram, and the clubs were represented by their chairmen or influential directors. Over 80 of the 88 clubs were represented.
The Management Committee invited the clubs' views. These, as stated above, were that the league could have no connection with betting in any shape or form, and that steps be taken to use the copyright and any other powers possessed over the fixtures.
It is, however, not only the pools that will be inconvenienced by these measures. Almost the whole football public will suffer in some way. With regard to the intention of the League in taking action, it is suggested to be a desire to dissociate football from betting.
Which Is More Popular?
The practical point at the moment, however, is whether the action it has now taken will have the effect intended or whether it will merely irritate a large section of the public. It is said that the League is about to press for legislation to deal with the pools, and probably it is only by this means that anything of decisive value can be done.
On Saturday_ the Football Pools' Promoters Association met in Liverpool to consider the declaration of war made on the pools by the Football League. This association represents firms which have over 7,000,000 clients.
A prominent member of the association in an interview after the meeting said:
" The action of the Football League is demonstrably attributable to the fact that, not being able to extort a fabulous sum from the pockets of the public by means of football pools, they decided to deprive their own supporters of the very sport itself by their inability to know in good time whom their favourite teams are going to play."
Opportunity To Find Out
Mr. Clement West, principal of the National Registry of Liverpool (an organisation founded to combat the opponents of football pools, such as antigambling associations, religious bodies, and also bogus pool-promoters and defaulters) said in an interview that members of the registry, who included most of the smaller pool promoters in Great Britain, were preparing to meet the challenge of the League.
" We are sending a circular to all our members suggesting the formation of a Pool Punters' Protest Society," he said, " with a nominal membership fee.
" I believe millions who have a small weekly sum on football coupons will readily join an organisation which will carry out a programme of propaganda for the continuance of football pools."
Very Small Bets
What seems to be the general view of the pool punters was expressed by one who said:
" It is a scandal that the Football League should attempt to deprive us of a simple flutter every week. They must imagine that we arc all putting hundreds of pounds on, whereas it is pretty evident that few ever spend more than Is., and no harm can come through that.
"The football spectator has the matter iu ills own wows—ail lie 1.1cdo 4.0 .14 iS to boycott the matches."
Credit football betting by the pools began when parliament stopped football guessing competitions in the newspapers. These were always the most honest and genuine of competitions, and the legal ban on them led to the host of crossword and other competitions that, in effect, were pure gambles.
How the pools have grown is shown by official figures given by the G.P.O.
In 1924-25, 3,717,000 sixpenny postal orders and 8,247,000 shilling orders were issued.
In 1933-34 the growth pf pool betting had raised these figures to 22,299,000 sixpenny orders and 24,359,000 shilling orders.
It has been estimated that £500,000 is subscribed weekly to the pools by ten million persons, and that the promoter? profits amount to £2,000,000 per season.
Although the profits of affiliated pools are limited to 5 per cent., those of the large individual coucerns are, it has been asserted, about £250,000 per firm per annum.
Liverpool is the headquarters of the greater number of the pool promoters and over 10,000 people, mostly girls, are employed by them. They have special staffs of ex-post office and police officials, do their own printing and have mechanical devices that enable them to deal with millions of pool sheets every week.
What the publicists are asking is whether this form of widespread gambling is a social evil. What the football authorities are asking is whether it is good for the sportsmanship and honesty of players and spectators.
To the first question the supporters of the pools reply that it would be unfair to deprive the working man of a shilling gamble every week while totes are allowed on the racecourse and gambling in thousands of pounds is permitted in private houses, clUbs and charity gatherings.
To the second question it is asked whether any player would let his side down, risking his football job, in order to fit the result of the game with his pool guess.
New Torpedo Factory
Alterations are being carried out by the Admiralty at the Argyll Works in the Vale of Leven, which they purchased recently from Scottish Artificial Silks (Ltd.), to provide a new torpedo factory.
A large staff of joiners and millwrights are at present carrying out reconstructions, and it is expected that government production will begin sometime in the summer.
All the workmen for the factory are being engaged through the local employment exchange.