Calls for football clubs to pay real Living Wage

Charity Citizens UK estimates that 42 per cent of workers at Premier League clubs, such as cleaners, security guards and caterers, are paid below the real Living Wage amount.

With the 2019/20 Premier League season kicking off last weekend, clubs have faced criticism over how much they pay every-day workers. Citizens UK outlines that workers based in the clubs earn barley enough to cover the cost of living, despite the fact that the 20 clubs in the League made ‘record’ revenues nearing £5bn in the 17/18 season. It calls for more of the clubs to start providing the real Living Wage, an enhanced minimum rate of pay for workers that is currently £9.00 per hour, or £10.55 per hour if the worker is based in London.

Currently, only four of the 20 clubs in the League have signed up to provide the real Living Wage. Matthew Bolton, Citizens UK director, highlights that ‘Premier League clubs have had years to fix this, yet we are once again starting a new football season with employees at 16 clubs left on the breadline’. His comments have been furthered by an anonymous cleaner based at Manchester United’s Old Trafford, who states that he gets paid £7.80 per hour and ‘struggles to put food on the table’ for his family.

The voluntary living wage was launched in 2011 by the Living Wage Foundation, with the aim of encouraging organisations to pay a higher minimum wage to their staff that is based on the ‘real’ cost of living. As a voluntary rate of pay, organisations can choose to opt-in to the scheme and receive Living Wage accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation. New voluntary Living Wage rates are announced each year on the first Monday in November, with organisations having until May of the following year to implement the change.  

Previously, the number of football clubs deciding to provide the real Living Wage has remained low. Whilst London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for all London football clubs to sign up to the Living Wage Foundation in the past, only West Ham has since done so. Organisations do not have to pay their staff the ‘real’ Living Wage, but should bear in mind that doing so can be very well received by a workforce, helping them to better meet the cost of living and potentially encouraging their continued loyalty to the business.

It remains to be seen if any more clubs will adopt the real Living Wage. Despite this, organisations should remember that the real Living Wage is not be confused with the National Living Wage, which is the compulsory minimum rate of pay set by the government for adult workers aged 25 and over.

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