Little Gem’s new documentary Paul Merson: Football, Gambling and Me is heading to BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
The poignant and necessary film will follow former Arsenal and England legend Paul Merson, who lost a fortune due to a gambling addiction that lasted 30 years, as he explores the relationship between football and gambling at a time where the industry’s place in sport has never been more questioned.
Paul is now on the path to recovery but is setting out to discover why his life has been so badly damaged by gambling, as he seeks to understand the triggers that have led to his addiction. To do this, he’s undergoing therapy and meeting scientists who are developing new theories in addiction science.
Advertising and sponsorship by betting firms has exploded in recent years, with the gambling industry now spending £1.5 billion annually on advertising, of which 80 percent is spent solely online.
As the government debates whether gambling laws should be changed, Paul explores whether a generation of young Brits are at risk of falling down the same dark path of addiction due to a bombardment of online ads.
Paul Merson commented: “If this film helps just one other person affected by the issue of problem gambling, it’s been worthwhile”.
Jack Bootle, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Science, added: "Watching England reach the finals of the Euros has been a dream come true. But, as we watch, it's impossible to escape the constant marketing campaigns from the betting industry. With fans and players at risk of being drawn into addiction, it's the perfect time for Paul to explore the uncomfortable relationship between football and the gambling industry - and ask if it needs to change.”