• Petition for Premier League clubs launched by fans, faith leaders and MPs asking club chairman “make a deadline day deal for workers”
  • Despite Premier League clubs making over £4.2 billion combined last year and 9 of the 20 clubs making record player signings during this transfer window, only 4 Premier League clubs are accredited with the Living Wage Foundation
  • Citizens UK reveals that Manchester United – which has now broken two transfer fee records after signing English defender Harry for £80m – has failed to act on calls from both the community and stadiums workers to pay a real Living Wage

Community Organising charity Citizens UK has today called on all Premier League football clubs to end longstanding poverty pay at their clubs. Despite last year’s Premier League clubs made a combined £4.2 billion last year, most matchday staff at clubs – including cleaners, stewards and security guards – are struggling to keep their heads above water financially on wages that don’t cover the cost of living.

According to a report published by Citizens UK last year, despite clubs like Manchester United recording annual profits of £57 million, an estimated 42% of all workers in sports clubs and facilities currently earn below the real Living Wage and are struggling to make ends meet for themselves and their families.

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 as well as any third-party contract staff. Other clubs outside the Premier League, such as Championship side Luton FC 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”.

Citizens UK revealed that despite calls from community leaders and stadium workers themselves, Manchester United has failed to act on calls to pay the Living Wage. This comes despite the fact that Manchester United broke the world record transfer fee for a defender last week after completing a £80m deal for Harry Maguire, who is now the most expensive English player in football history.

A cleaner who works at Old Trafford and wishes to remain anonymous, said:

I work as a cleaner at Man United and 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. …considering the amount of money in football, it would be great to see the club paying all their staff a fair and decent wage.”

Rt Revd John Arnold, the Catholic Bishop of Salford and backer of the campaign to get Manchester Utd and City accredited 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.”

Gary Sweet, CEO 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.

As a business we pride ourselves on being a key-part of the local community and it would it be wrong on a fundamental level to label ourselves as inclusive if staff – many of whom are Lutonians – were being paid an amount that sees them live below the poverty line.

“Paying the Living Wage goes a long way to ensuring that staff are happy in their work and that reflects in the loyalty shown by staff. Success on the pitch should reflect off it, and behind the scenes we certainly are in a good place with the members of staff we have.”

The 2019/2020 transfer season has so far seen record high payments for plays, with 9 out of the 20 premier league clubs making record signings. However, most of the clubs forking out huge sums for players are guilty of paying stadium staff poverty wages.


ClubRecord Signing 2019/2020Accredited Living Wage employer?Record?
Tottenham Hotspur£53 million: Tanguy NdombeleNoYes – club record
Sheffield United£17 million: Oli McBurnieNoYes – club record
Newcastle United£40 million: JoelintonNoYes – club record
Leicester City FC£40 million: Youri TielemansNoYes – club record
Manchester City FC£62.8 million: RodriNoYes – club record
Arsenal£72 million: Nicholas PepeNoYes – club record
Aston Villa£22 million: Wesley MoraesNoYes – club record
Manchester United£80 million: Harry MaquireNoYes – most expensive defender and most expensive English football player
Brighton£20 million: Adam Webster

£20 million: Neal Maupay

NoYes – club records


A Survation poll conducted earlier this year showed there is mass public support for Premier League clubs paying staff the real Living Wage. 7 in 10 of people surveyed agreed that top sports clubs and venues should pay their staff the real Living Wage.

A petition calling on all Premier League clubs that aren’t accredited to “make a deadline day deal for workers” and step up and pay the Living Wage has been circulated by a campaigner with Greater Manchester Citizens.

The real Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay set independently and updated annually. It’s calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. The rates are currently £9 an hour outside of London and £10.55 in London.


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