Lismore Turf Club secretary-manager Michael Timbrell opposes a proposal to ban alcohol company sponsorship of sporting events like horse racing.
Lismore Turf Club secretary-manager Michael Timbrell opposes a proposal to ban alcohol company sponsorship of sporting events like horse racing. CATHY ADAMS

Sport clubs face sponsor drought

SEEING a XXXX Gold beer advertisement while watching the footy, or catching a glimpse of the VB sign on the shirts of our cricketers, may become a thing of the past if a proposed alcohol sponsorship ban goes ahead.

The National Preventative Health Task Force is calling for an end to all alcohol advertising associated with sporting teams and arenas and during live TV broadcasts.

The proposed ban drew harsh criticism from Lismore Turf Club secretary-manager Michael Timbrell, who oversees the biggest day on Lismore’s horse-racing calendar – the XXXX Gold Lismore Cup.

“As far as I’m concerned, the sponsoring of Lismore Cup races by an alcohol company brings no harm to the community,” Mr Timbrell said.

“If these sponsorships are taken away we’re still going to sell alcohol, it’s just one less revenue stream for the sporting clubs.”

Mr Timbrell said that some years ago, the Lismore Cup had problems with alcohol and decided to do something about it, proposing an idea to its sponsor, Tooheys, which came on board to support the campaign by marketing mid-strength beer at the event.

“The number one-selling beer now is a mid-strength beer, and it wouldn’t have happened without the sponsorship of Tooheys,” he said.

“The ban is a short-sighted plan and it’s only a small, vocal percentage of the community that have problems with such sponsorships.”

Although Mr Timbrell disagrees with the ban, he said each sport had a different age appeal so he could understand where the push to ban alcohol sponsorship was coming from.

“Horse racing in particular appeals to people aged 18 and over, and the marketing targets those legally able to drink, where in car racing it’s different, it also appeals to kids,” he said.

Reports suggest an estimated $300 million could be lost by sporting programs if the ban, designed to improve public health, is implemented.

A spokeswoman for Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon declined to comment on the task force’s report, other than to say the Minister was ‘considering all the recommendations’ before it was released publicly.

Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t support a ban on alcohol advertising.

Mr Turnbull said alcohol was different to cigarettes, which had no safe level of consumption.
“Responsible use of alcohol is something that everybody encourages – any level of tobacco consumption is undesirable and dangerous,” he said.

However, Family First Senator Steve Fielding is backing the proposed ban, saying mixing alcohol and sport made a dangerous cocktail.

The senator, who helped scuttle a permanent tax hike on alcopops in March, said endorsements in sport were to blame for Australia’s binge drinking problem.

Mr Timbrell said the turf club did all it could to promote responsible alcohol consumption, but ultimately individuals were responsible for their own actions.

“The laws on service of alcohol are pretty tough, so I don’t know what this campaign will do, except put more financial pressure on clubs,” he said.

“There comes a point where people have to take responsibility for their actions; it’s their choice to drink.”


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