Nigel Adams says Derby giving Wayne Rooney No 32 shirt is ‘very crafty’

Derby County have been urged by Britain’s new sports minister to reconsider their “very crafty” decision to give Wayne Rooney the No 32 shirt in order to promote an online casino.

Nigel Adams said he understood the criticism Derby had received from the Church of England and healthcare groups after securing a record deal with their shirt sponsor, the online casino 32Red, by signing Rooney on a reported £90,000-a-week deal and handing him 32 as his squad number. However, he stopped short of endorsing the calls from a growing number of healthcare professionals who have called on the government to ban gambling sponsorship in sport.

“I totally understand the concerns,” said Adams. “The No 32 shirt is a very crafty move by Derby. I would ask them to look within themselves and think about the impact that problem gambling can have on some in society, particularly vulnerable people and youngsters. They have got a social responsibility to be mature and grown up.”

Adams warned that if any of the 10 Premier League and 16 Championship clubs who have betting firms as their main sponsors crossed the line they could expect action from the Football Association. “Clubs need to be very conscious of that link with gambling,” Adams said. “It did raise an eyebrow when I saw the No 32 on Wayne Rooney’s shirt.

“I would urge the clubs to abide by not just the rules but the spirit of what the Gambling Commission and the FA have laid down. And if they break those rules then they shouldn’t be surprised if there is further action. We have to make sure we look after those who are vulnerable.”

While 32Red will not appear on any replica children’s kits as it is banned by regulations, they are able to have Rooney’s name and No 32 printed on the back of their shirt. The betting company has said their agreement “complies with FA regulations”.

Adams also said the government was concerned that Bolton and Bury appeared to be on the brink of collapse and said he would be meeting the Football Association to discuss how to help the clubs out of the mess they were in.

Last week a proposed takeover at Bolton fell through after a court order forced the club’s joint administrator to suspend the sale. Meanwhile Bury – who on Tuesday had their fourth game of the season, against Gillingham on Saturday, postponed by the Football League – have been given a two-week deadline to save their League One status.

“In Bolton and Bury, that part of Lancashire, football is like a religion so it’s not acceptable,” said Adams, who said he would be meeting the FA shortly. “It is incredibly sad that Bury fans have been denied football at the start of the season. And it is incredibly difficult for the clubs that were meant to be playing them as well. But the FA have to put their foot down. They have to make sure that clubs are financially stable and they can pay their creditors. So it is a very tough call for the FA. But for a government it causes us concern that these clubs are in this mess.”

Adams, who recently became the third sports minister in nine months following Tracey Crouch, who resigned over the government’s refusal to speed up plans to curb controversial fixed-odds betting terminals, and Mims Davies, who was moved to the department of work and pensions, said that he wanted to do more to tackle discrimination and boost participation levels in schools.

“Any form of discrimination is unacceptable in sport or in society,” he added. “And I know, from personal experience, how sport can change your life and make you feel more inclusive when you’ve not necessarily grown up in a family with privilege. That’s why sport in school is important. Participation is a key driver for me.”