Ian McCall On Gambling Addiction

Ian McCall, the boss of Scottish football team Ayr United, has come clean about his reason for leaving Partick Thistle in 2011: he wanted to overcome a gambling addiction. He explains, “I didn’t leave Thistle when they were on the verge of having a very good team again because I wanted to leave football. I left because I had to sort myself out. I was standing places thinking I was invisible as the manager of Partick Thistle. Looking back, it was just a horrendously bad period in my life. I felt the need to conquer it and I did it my way.”

Gambling as a problem has recently been highlighted by both the English FA as well as the Scottish FA, and McCall calls it a serious matter: “This is a serious, serious subject and there has to be a distinction between a gambling addiction, which I went through myself, and people betting on football matches. A gambling addiction is way, way too serious to talk about in a football show and people who talk about it, they don’t get it, they don’t understand it, they’ve not been through it.”

Can I Recover from Gambling Addiction?

McCall says, “I’m six years free on 9 October this year and that has no relation at all to a footballer going and putting £5 on a football team to win a game of football, no relation whatsoever. When it’s as serious as it gets, you need to approach things and your whole life in a very, very different way and people that know about it are the only ones that know about it. It’s an addiction that people are very blasé about at times, I think they don’t get just how serious it is.”

Just as with any addiction, gambling addiction is treatable. It is an illness just like drug and alcohol addiction, and it needs to be treated as soon as possible.

What Are the Signs of Gambling Addiction?

Although gambling addiction is mostly a hidden addiction, there are several signs that you can look out for either in yourself or in someone else:

  • You spend more money and time on gambling than you can actually afford
  • You find it difficult to stop or manage your gambling
  • Friends and family argue with you over your gambling behaviour and the money that you spend
  • You lose interest in doing things such as your usual hobbies or spending time with friends and family
  • You are obsessed with gambling – it is all you can think and talk about
  • You lie about your gambling and you hide it from other people
  • You gamble more to make up for losses and to get out of your financial problems
  • You do not stop gambling until all your money is finished
  • To pay for your gambling, you borrow money from everyone, you sell your stuff and you don’t pay your bills
  • You build up a tolerance for the gambling thrill and you need to bet higher and for longer to get the same thrill
  • You neglect everything: school, work, family, personal needs, household responsibilities, etc.
  • You constantly feel anxious, worried, guilty, depressed, or irritable – especially when you cannot gamble.

Where Can I Get Help?

Recovery Lighthouse has specialist therapists who are trained and experienced in dealing with gambling addiction. We have a 24/7 careline staffed by friendly and knowledgeable counsellors who will gladly answer your questions and offer you advice and guidance on what you need to consider when getting help. Recovery Lighthouse can also arrange for you to be admitted into our rehab facility if this is what is required.

Although you are not physically dependent on a substance like alcohol or drugs with a gambling addiction, you still need to be taken out of your situation/circumstances where you are able to place a bet. Our clinic offers a safe and secure environment to help keep you away from temptation while you adjust to life without gambling. While here, you will also undergo an intensive treatment programme focussing on your mindset, life skills, and coping mechanisms. You will also have individual counselling sessions to help you adjust to life without gambling and deal with your other issues.

Do not delay any longer. The sooner you get treatment, the better for you and your family. Call us now to start your gambling-free life.


  1. (BBC) Ian McCall left Partick Thistle to overcome gambling addiction
  2. (Be Gamble Aware) Signs to Look out For