News   |    February 3rd, 2022

Premier League Sustainable?

Now more than ever, we are in a continuing battle to be environmentally sustainable, not just in sports, but in society as a whole. It seems this topic comes and goes, yet remains as an underlying, but vital issue we must address. With the Premier League having such a profound impact on millions of people, their member clubs have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the measures they have taken and are taking to be sustainably focused going forward. 

In the COP26 Conference in Glasgow there was criticism of Premier League clubs flying to domestic games but, teams have really invested time and money into their sustainable exploits. BBC Sport has worked with the United Nations-backed Sport Positive Summit since 2019 to research the sustainability of all 20 Premier League clubs, with the rankings updated each year. Teams were asked to provide evidence of efforts in 11 categories. Two points are available for each category as well as two bonus points, making a maximum of 24 points. These categories included -; pPolicy and commitment, clean energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, single-use plastic reduction or removal, waste management, water efficiency, plant-based or low-carbon food, biodiversity, education, communications and engagement.

So, who comes out on top? Liverpool and Tottenham take joint 1st as they claim 23 points, with Manchester City and Southampton coming in joint 2nd on 21 points. Meanwhile, Arsenal and Manchester United yield 19 points in joint 3rd. So, what have they done?

Tottenham Hotspur players now travel to matches on coaches powered by biofuel, reducing squad coach travel emissions by over 80%. While other clubs such as Liverpool have committed to decarbonising fuel through the use of sustainable aviation fuel in the future, which would also reduce emissions by 80%. Arsenal have been offering their fans a special renewable energy tariff via a green energy supplier, while Everton are working with fans to set up an ‘Everton for Change’ project group with six supporters helping to promote green initiatives to fellow fans. Manchester City has committed to an ambitious target of net zero by 2030. Liverpool have planted over 900 trees, hedges, bushes, and wildflower plugs at their Academy, as well as vegetables that the club’s chefs use. Following suit, Norwich uses home-grown produce from their on-site allotment and have developed a Player Nutrition App which has extensive plant-based recipes. 

Ultimately this is having a positive impact on not just clubs becoming more sustainable, but also fans. Spurs state they are close to achieving their target of no more than 23% of supporters (14,250 fans) travelling by private car on match days. Claire Poole, CEO of Sport Positive Summit says; “The power of sport within the climate crisis is the platform and influence it has to drive this change,” continuing she added, “We need staff, fans, players, suppliers, sponsors and citizens that clubs connect with, to receive training and education to understand the challenges we face, understand what their team is doing, and how they can take action.”

This is not only important for now, but for our future, and the generations that follow us. It is about becoming sustainable as a collective, with a goal to benefit the planet and society we live in. It is great to see clubs taking initiatives, particularly considering the weight of their message to fans, players and the general public alike. So next time you travel to see your local team play, take into consideration your transport, or the recyclable cups you can use as, every detail helps!

Image: (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

Alfie Bobbins - Integral Sports Management

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