Lafferty’s lifetime addiction battle fear
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.”