Premiership clubs and short haul flights

Today BBC Sport gave a rounded approach to the ongoing discussion about premiership clubs taking short haul flight domestically for games.

A recent poll showed as sustainability consultants we should encourage change, work to avoid green washing but also avoid greenhushing:

We need to work on the biggest impact work which as we can see from this infographic is cars and mostly single driver journeys.

What we can see from the recent Liverpool FC report is that fan travel is the biggest emitter.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be encouraging train over plane for domestic journeys as we discussed in the Nottingham Forest BBC article where we mentioned ‘there is never a need to take a short haul flight domestically in a small country’ but it does mean we should think about priorities. There is systems work going on in travel to reduce carbon which is needed for the economy, but it needs to speed up, so right now the fastest approach to carbon reduction is through citizen change. Citizens can have a 27% effect on reducing carbon up to 2030 so football is in a great position to steer this change.

When a group of midlands based premiership clubs joined FGA Sports, Birmingham County FA and Life TACKLE for a sustainability workshop Feb 2022 it was assumed kits and plastic were the biggest issue to tackle but we soon realised that travel was the one to look at first. Whether you are in a grassroots team or a pro club you can decide how you get to the match. If you are a high net worth individual like a top league player then you can choose what car you buy, you could buy an electric car, (even a sports cars) like Micha Richards and encourage fans to walk, cycle, take the train, bus or share cars to the match. It is probably is going to have a bigger influence on carbon reduction then many may think. Visibly showing willingness as a team to take the train (and not laughing at the idea) will of course be viewed well. Manchester United have 1.1 billon fans across their channels, Arsenal around 114 million. That is a lot of people watching their daily movements but it also means top clubs and players are in a position to show us the green way.

Fan power is huge as we saw from the ending of the European Super League. UK fans essentially put down the idea and it quickly came to a close. Watch the documentary ‘Kicking off: the rise and the fall of the super league’ here on iplayer. We can make green change through football…

So should we give the clubs and leagues the information they need to start to become green influencers? Yes. Education and knowledge sharing is our approach at FGA Sports. And as a start we advise clubs to create a good strategy and put a plan in place to work on their own footprint too, so they know their house (club/FA) is in order.

As player Morten Thorsby and We Play Green founders says “we are all people, citizens, we’re all in the same boat”. He choose to use his position as player to influence fellow players to take a stance.

And as we heard in one recent BBC podcast, the host discussed us all being hypocrites in some way but the sooner we do something rather than nothing the closer we’ll be to reducing carbon.

If you have need to reduce carbon, investigate fan travel, crunch some data, look at activation initiatives or need some technical advisory get in touch with or to discuss further.

Read some of our thoughts and trends on sports and sustainability in FGA Trends 2023 and listen to them on the Race for the Future podcast.

FGA Sports supporting the green kick off.

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