Laf­ferty’s life­time ad­dic­tion bat­tle fear

Sunday Sun - - Football -

KYLE Laf­ferty has urged foot­ball to re­assess its re­la­tion­ship with book­mak­ers as he faces up to an ad­dic­tion he ad­mits he may spend the rest of his life tack­ling.

Two months ago, Hearts and North­ern Ire­land striker Laf­ferty pub­licly ad­mit­ted gam­bling was a vice he had been wrestling with his en­tire ca­reer.

To­day, the 30-year-old is back in Switzer­land – where he fed his habit with punts on ice hockey dur­ing a sea­son at Sion – in a bet­ter frame of mind, even if he has been told he faces a lengthy fight bat­tling his demons.

“I was at a Gam­blers Anony­mous meet­ing last Wed­nes­day with John Hart­son and a guy picked up his 35-year pin,” Laf­ferty ex­plained.

“He’s gone to ev­ery sin­gle meet­ing – two a week. I spoke to him af­ter and I said, ‘Why so long?’ He said, ‘You need to do it’.

“There was an­other guy who said, ‘When­ever you think you are over it, there is a chance you could fall back in. You need as much help as you can and there are lots of peo­ple who are help­ing me, and then there will be oth­ers who will want me to fail. I’ve fi­nally got my mind in the right place. I’m go­ing to do this for my fam­ily and my­self.”

The strug­gle will be greater given his cho­sen field’s as­so­ci­a­tion with book­mak­ers.

When Joey Bar­ton was given an 18-month ban, later re­duced to 13, by the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion for mul­ti­ple breaches of its bet­ting reg­u­la­tions, the mid­fielder de­cried the sport’s links with the gam­bling in­dus­try.

Laf­ferty, who was fined by the FA him­self in 2016 for break­ing bet­ting rules, can see his point.

“Every­where you look in Scot­land it’s the Wil­liam Hill Cup, the Lad­brokes Pre­mier League and you are play­ing a game and bet365 is go­ing around ad­ver­tis­ing boards,” he noted.

“No mat­ter what app you put up on your phone, there is some­thing to do with bet­ting, like live scores. You can’t get away from it. Every­where you look there is some­thing to do with bet­ting.

“I think peo­ple need to look at it be­cause if you have a prob­lem it is dif­fi­cult to get away from it, un­less you are go­ing to be brave and come out about it and get help, and it’s dif­fi­cult.”

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