The Bishop of Salford has urged Premier League football clubs to “do their bit” in solving poverty.
Bishop John Arnold pointed out that while the top tier of English football enjoys global success, many of its clubs seem to have neglected their staff and families.
His comments come during calls for Premier League clubs to end “poverty pay” among staff including cleaners and security guards amid record player signings ahead of the new season.
Community organising charity Citizens UK said that, despite Premier League clubs making a combined £4.2 billion last year, most matchday staff are struggling to keep their heads above water financially on wages that do not cover the cost of living.
An estimated 42 per cent of all workers in sports clubs and facilities currently earn below the voluntary Real Living Wage, said the charity.
Bishop Arnold said: “Football clubs have a rich history in our communities and the Premier League has become a global export, yet too often clubs seem to have lost touch with the lives and struggles of workers and their families.
“Solving poverty can’t be left to faith and civil society alone and big clubs and their wealthy owners must do their bit.”
Citizens UK reported that only four Premier League clubs – Everton, Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham – are currently accredited with the Living Wage Foundation, meaning they are committed to paying all staff and any third-party contract workers the voluntary rate of £9 an hour and £10.55 in London, higher than the statutory figure of £8.21.
Other clubs outside the Premier League, such as Championship side Luton, also pay the voluntary rate.
Matthew Bolton, director of Citizens UK, said: “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. It’s not right when clubs are splashing out record fees on players.
“Today we’re urging Premier League clubs dragging their feet to join Liverpool, West Ham, Everton and Chelsea, do the right thing, step up and pay the Real Living Wage for all workers.”
A cleaner who works at Manchester United’s Old Trafford, and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I currently get paid £7.80 per hour. At the moment I struggle to put food on the table for my family and I often have to have cut-price meals.”
Gary Sweet, chief executive of Luton Town FC, said: “We became the first club in professional football in England in December 2014 to become an accredited employer, yet five years on there are still only seven clubs in total in the UK that can call themselves one.
“We hoped that our commitment would have a knock-on effect across the leagues, which it has slowly done, but, given the amount of money that is now in the Premier League and the EFL, it is a sorry state of affairs to see clubs aren’t ensuring staff are living above the poverty line.”
This weekend’s Premier League fixtures:
Friday 9th August
Liverpool v Norwich City – 8:00pm
Saturday 10th August
West Ham United v Manchester City – 12:30pm
AFC Bournemouth v Sheffield United – 3:00pm
Burnley v Southampton – 3:00pm
Crystal Palace v Everton – 3:00pm
Watford v Brighton & Hove Albion – 3:00pm
Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa – 5:30pm
Sunday 11th August
Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – 2:00pm
Newcastle United v Arsenal – 2:00pm
Manchester United v Chelsea – 4:30pm
Picture: A ball in the net. (Jon Buckle/PA).