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Former Premier League manager to speak at Wembley Summit

Former Reading and Leeds United manager Brian McDermott is the latest high-profile name confirmed to make a key contribution to the Gambling Harm Prevention in Sport Summit, presented by EPIC Risk Management and UCFB’s Global Institute of Sport (GIS).

Taking place in the prestigious surroundings of Wembley Stadium on Wednesday 5th October, several leading executives and player care specialists from major sports leagues and clubs from both sides of the Atlantic have already confirmed their attendance to discuss how best to tackle the issue of gambling harm in their industry.

The latest addition to the day’s panels, McDermott, made his name in football management when he guided Reading to the Premier League in 2012, later taking the reigns at Leeds United before returning for a second spell with the Royals.

During his first spell with the Berkshire club, the players under his care included Scott Davies, whose career at the club came to an end following the unwelcome distraction of problem gambling and is now a programme facilitator with EPIC, helping others to learn from his lived experience via education sessions in professional sport or secondary schools and colleges. During the Summit, McDermott will be sharing his experience of addiction in sport and has admitted to not initially recognising the signs of harm that were affecting Davies’ career, so his retrospective understanding of the tell-tale signs will be a vital learning opportunity for those in attendance.

Explaining why he has taken the chance to brief the invite-only audience, McDermott admitted:

“I’m really looking forward to it; it’s going to be a great occasion. There’s a lot of people with lived experience on the panels that have been affected by the ripple effects of gambling.

“Back in the day, there was gambling going on in the coach on the way to a game – it can’t be right, mentally trying to prepare yourself for the game. I’d like to think that it doesn’t go on today, but I’m not sure.

“I look at Scotty [Davies] now and how he lives his life and how he has turned it around to help other people. What he’s done is fantastic and it’s life that we’re talking about. Everyone needs to open up and talk, and I think that just by having conversations, it’s a start. When I played, you didn’t talk – it was a sign of weakness – but it’s a sign of strength today. It’s vitally important and events like this can make the difference.”

Alongside hearing from McDermott and ‘affected others’, like Steph Shilton – wife of England’s record men’s cap holder Peter, whose struggle with gambling is well documented – those present at Wembley will be presented with the findings from the first year of activity by EPIC’s Pro Sport Advisory Board.

The select panel of player protection and welfare experts from the sporting, esports and gambling sectors will be unveiling the collective steps that they believe need to be taken to reduce gambling-related issues among those within their jurisdiction, with discussions over the release of their inaugural white paper supported by ‘lived experience’ stories from those who have been directly or indirectly affected by problem gambling.

Full details of the day are available here and anyone holding a leading role in management or player welfare within elite professional sport/esports who wishes to register their interest in attending the event can email to request details/potential invitations.

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