Betting and Gaming Council Raises £50,000 for Charity at Anniversary Football Match

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the football match between Lobby journalists and MPs by raising over £50,000 for charity. This significant sum was primarily due to a generous donation from bet365.

BGC member bet365 contributed the donation to SportsAid, the event’s charity partner. The match took place last Friday at Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road stadium, featuring an All-Star team of Parliamentarians led by former Cabinet Minister Ed Balls against a Lobby XI. The journalists emerged victorious with a 4-1 win.

Ed Balls’ team included notable figures such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, former Scottish Labour Party Leader Jim Murphy, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and MPs Huw Merriman, Ben Bradley, Steve Rotheram, Justin Madders, and Stephen Kinnock.

The journalists’ squad featured prominent current and former Fleet Street personalities, including LBC’s Ben Kentish, The Times’ Home Affairs Editor Matt Dathan, former Deputy Political Editor at the Independent Rob Merrick, and the Evening Standard’s Political Editor Nic Cecil.

The event, sponsored by the BGC in support of SportsAid, saw bet365 make a notable contribution to the charity’s initiatives. Additionally, Entain, another BGC member, facilitated the presence of England football legend Stuart Pearce. Pearce encouraged the players, presented the winners’ trophy, and awarded the Player of the Match to former Daily Telegraph Political Editor Andy Porter.

Stuart Pearce is an ambassador for Entain’s Pitching In initiative, a multi-million-pound investment program supporting non-league and grassroots football.

The regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK, represented by the BGC, is a significant supporter of popular sports, including the English Football League and its clubs, which receive £40 million annually. The BGC, representing over 90 percent of the regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK, supports 110,000 jobs, generates £4.2 billion in taxes, and contributes £7.1 billion to the economy.

Since its inception in 2019, the BGC has raised over £6 million for various charities.

Michael Dugher, CEO and Acting Chair of the BGC, said: “The 50th anniversary match of Lobby vs MPs was a fantastic occasion, made even more special by BGC member bet365, whose contribution will make a real difference for SportsAid.

“Our members are proud of their support for all sports, including football, and I’m delighted SportsAid were able to receive such a significant amount, thanks to bet365.

“The first 45 minutes in particular was perhaps the worst football I have ever watched so I did feel sorry for Stuart Pearce, who pointed out to me that he’d been commentating on Real Madrid only a couple of days earlier.

“But it was a great night and it was great to see so many old friends and colleagues again, coming together to raise money for a fabulous good cause.”

SportsAid Chief Executive Tim Lawler, added: “A huge thank you from everyone at SportsAid. The donations raised as a result of this milestone moment in the long history of this symbolic match are truly fantastic!

“They will fuel SportsAid’s mission to encourage, enable and empower the next generation of British sporting talent. In an Olympic and Paralympic year, this feels even more pertinent.

“Thanks to everyone involved, particularly the players in the Lobby XI and the Parliamentarians, the team at BGC and particularly to bet365 for their incredibly generous donation.”

A bet365 spokesperson, said: “On behalf of everyone at bet365, we would like to extend a huge congratulations to everyone involved in the 50th anniversary of the Lobby vs MPs football match, including the event organisers and sponsors, the BGC.

“We were delighted to make a donation to SportsAid, who do huge good supporting and encouraging the next generation of sporting greats.

“At bet365 we are passionate about supporting sport and charity, so it was fantastic to get behind this terrific event.”

Former Cabinet Minister turned TV presenter Ed Balls, said: “It was right and proper that the Lobby XI should win their 50th anniversary match, but my ageing band of former MPs did brilliantly against younger opposition and – age-adjusted – we surely scraped a victory.

“We’re all delighted that we’ve helped get SportsAid vital funds for their important work spreading opportunities to new generations of competitors. Big thanks to the BGC for making it happen.”

Former Times Political Editor Phil Webster, who captained the Lobby XI, said: “Having played in the first match 50 years ago, and enjoyed my cameo role in this one, I have to say that the match and organisation surrounding it was top class.

“Thanks to the generosity of bet365 the sum raised for SportsAid surpassed our wildest hopes. A big thumbs up to the Betting and Gaming Council for making it happen and well done to my team for underlining that in the big tussles it is the journos who come out on top.”

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