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Football clubs who don't pay Real Living Wage have 'lost touch' says bishop

by Press Association

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% of all workers in sports clubs and facilities currently earn below the voluntary Real Living Wage, said the charity.

It 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.

"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 Rev John Arnold, Catholic Bishop of Salford, 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, 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."

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