NO DOUBT you will have heard about the financial rankings of the top clubs of Europe this week.
Spoiler alert; the rich and famous of Europe's football elite will probably survive the impact Covid-19 has had on their earnings.
Not reported as much, but probably far more important, was the publication of the sustainability league table of Premier League clubs which was also announced this week. An initiative of BBC Sport and the United Nations-backed Sport Positive Summit, it saw teams in England's top-flight asked to provide evidence of their efforts across eight categories to make them as clubs and businesses more environmentally sustainable.
There are points available in each of the eight categories and three bonus points, making for a possible total of 21 points on offer.
- Points were awarded for Clean energy (2 points).
- Energy efficiency (2 points ). Sustainable transport (2 points).
- Single-use plastic reduction or removal (2 points).
- Waste management (2 points). Water efficiency (2 points).
- Plant-based or low-carbon food options (3 points).
- Communications & Engagement (3 points).
One bonus point was awarded for each of the following:
- If clubs actively engage fans towards positive behavioural change that reduces environmental impact in their own lives.
- If the club are signatory to UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.#
- If club track and report on the percentage of fans taking various modes of transportation to games.
They were followed in joint-second by their near neighbour rivals, Arsenal, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Man United, all on 20 points.
The top four was made up by Man City and Southampton on 19 and 18 points respectively.
Liverpool are on their own in fifth on 17 points, followed by Chelsea and West Brom on 14. West Ham are in seventh on 13 points and Everton in eight on 12.5 points. Palace, Newcastle and Wolves are ninth on 12 points. In 10th it's Fulham on 11 points. Leeds, Leicester, and Sheffield United are in 11th on 10 points. Burnley are second last on eight points and Villa are rock bottom on seven.
It's believed that Spurs claimed top-spot due in part to Monday's announcement that they had signed up to the United Nations' Sports for Climate Action Framework that unifies organisations and clubs to pursue climate action in a mutually supportive network. That bonus point sealed the deal for them to bag the top of the table ahead of rivals Arsenal and Man United. Even in tables of environmental conservation and renewal, it's important to get one over the neighbours.
Four clubs have signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework (Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Southampton), and two clubs have launched far-reaching strategies around sustainability — Liverpool's The Red Way and Southampton's The Halo Effect. Both aim to connect the club with the people, the community, and the planet in a way that is educational, sustainable, and positive for the environment.
It's not surprising that five of the top six sides are clubs that reside in the five newest stadiums in the league. New technology, better facilities regarding lighting and field maintenance infrastructure, all have allowed for them make the most of a more sustainable future.
Yet there is much more that the clubs can do to improve their green credential, from using their ample space to becoming net producers of renewable energy to encouraging and even organising fans to use sustainable transport when travelling to games.
Working with international and European partners to make competitions and transport to them a more sustainable prospect.
Stemming from that, the use of zero-emission transport for staff and team vehicles needs to be encouraged, not only for green reasons but also for the example they set to the public.
Next, recycle rainwater coming off the roofs and car parks. The use of green-friendly insecticides and fertilisers on the playing surfaces and training grounds. And at the grounds, the installation of battery storage, that uses solar and wind facilities to power their stadium floodlights reducing significant energy costs to the club.
The use of local produce, as much as possible in both the players' and fans' dining areas. And finally, going paperless as a business where possible through smart analysis and digital alternative.
All the clubs try to complete these tasks to some degree or another but what would truly be a groundbreaking disruption of old unsustainable practices would be to make sure that fans are included in the process. That they are educated and involved in adjusting the club to a better, healthier, and in the long run financially secure future.
Yes, sustainability, would also assure clubs of a genuinely sustainable future on that aforementioned financial list, as environmentally practices go from a process to save resources to becoming actively profitable for the enterprise of football.