Press Vs M Ps 2024 119


Standards Body the Betting and Gaming Council raised over £50,000 at the 50th anniversary football match between Lobby journalists and MPs, thanks to a huge donation from bet365.

BGC member bet365 made the bumper donation to SportsAid, the charity partner for the clash last Friday, at Queens Park Rangers’ Loftus Road stadium.

To mark 50 years of the contest, an All Star team of Parliamentarians led by former Cabinet Minister Ed Balls lined up against a Lobby XI of greats, with the hacks running out 4-1 winners.

Ed Ball’s team included Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, former Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Jim Murphy, Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Minister Huw Merriman MP, Ben Bradley MP, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotherham, Shadow Minister Justin Madders MP and Stephen Kinnock MP.

While the journalists’ squad boasted current and former Fleet Street legends 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 BGC sponsored the event, in support of SportsAid, and following the match it was confirmed bet365 had made the generous contribution to support their work.

Thanks to another BGC member Entain, England legend Stuart Pearce was on hand to encourage the players, present the winners trophy and hand out the Player of the Match Award to former Political Editor at the Daily Telegraph Andy Porter.

Former Three Lions skipper Pearce is an ambassador for Entain’s Pitching In initiative, a multi-million-pound, multi-year investment programme designed to support non-league and grassroots football.

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.”

The regulated betting and gaming industry provides some of the country’s most popular sport with vital funding, including the English Football League and its clubs, which receive £40m annually.

The BGC represents over 90 per cent of the regulated betting and gaming industry in the UK. It’s members support 110,000 jobs, generate £4.2bn in tax and contribute £7.1bn for the economy.

Since its launch in 2019, the BGC has raised over £6m for a host of charities.

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