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English Premier League

Premier League Living Wage Campaign: What’s Stopping Clubs?



It is a well-worn trope to compare footballer’s wages with those of the ‘man on the street’, but often overlooked are the men and women on the concourse, behind the programme stands or in the club shop who share the same employer as the players on the pitch. They get to see the wage differential between footballers and workers at its most stark. Last year a campaign was initiated to try and get Premier League clubs to sign up to paying all of their employees a living wage. Since the sale of Premier League TV rights for £5.4 billion, the arguments of campaigners have carried even more weight.

Moreover, as a general election approaches the issue of a living wage promises to become something of a political football. Labour have pledged to increase the minimum wage to £8 per hour, which though a small step forward, is still short of what is considered a living wage, certainly in the Greater London area. The campaign wants Premier League clubs to sign up to paying full time employees £9.15 per hour within London and £7.85 per hour outside of London by the start of the 2016/17 season. Premier League football clubs might not exist above and beyond the law exactly, but they nevertheless provide a fairly exceptional case in arguments about what bosses should be paying their employees.

The usual argument provided by business is that an increase in statutory wages stifles competitiveness, and could even force an increase in the cost of services. The idea of ‘competition’ when it comes to football clubs is a spurious one. Football supporters are just that, supporters, not customers. An Arsenal fan is not going to take is his custom to Tottenham Hotspur, as casually as you might change which local Chinese restaurant you opt for. Indeed many of the difficulties facing the modern fan; from high ticket prices to inconsiderate rescheduling to suit television, stem from this misconception that fans are to be treated as customers. Unless there is a change in this culture, it is unlikely that the situation for supporters will improve.

The campaign to make clubs pledge to pay a living wage, directed by Rhys Moore, has received a slightly circumspect reaction from clubs. Perhaps surprisingly, Chelsea were the first club to sign up to pay all full time staff the stated £9.15 per hour. Credit to Chelsea for leading the way on this, even if you suspect the club used the issue as a tool to improve their rather poor public image (unfairly gained or not). Manchester United have just this week joined them in making the promise, while Liverpool and Manchester City have verbally expressed support, as have West Ham United and Everton.

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore gave an unsatisfactory diplomatic response to the question, saying “At the end of the day there’s a thing called the living wage but there’s also a minimum wage, and politicians do have the power to up that minimum wage. That’s entirely for the politicians to do, that’s not for us to do.” Scudamore fails to comprehend how Premier League clubs are in the luxurious financial position to make a statement on this issue. Paying employees the living wage is not going to solve the housing problem, or deal with high utility costs and rail fares to ease the cost of living, but it would be a symbolic gesture to show that clubs care. It’s good PR if nothing else.

Though it may be true that the clubs who have failed to come forward on the living wage issue are motivated by sheer avarice, there are some complicating factors. Much of the match day work, such as catering, is sub contracted by clubs to other companies. This would make the enforcement of a living wage rule rather more complicated and means that these contractors must be included in discussions. Moore stated last month that “the vast majority of low-paid work in the Premier League is with subcontractors. This commitment doesn’t address that, which is why we think living wage accreditation is so important. The commitment Chelsea made to become the only accredited living wage employer in the Premier League goes so much further than this.”

Moreover, even the clubs who were quick to express support did so on the proviso that a living wage was to be paid to full time staff. Given that stadia might only be used once a fortnight for matches, it is fair to assume that a proportion of the paid work is on a part time basis. Another political football, zero hour contracts, could further complicate matters and provide a possible loophole for clubs wishing to avoid paying staff the living wage. It remains to be seen whether this perilous form of labour will be tackled post-election, but it will be something to keep a close eye on in relation to the living wage campaign.

By the time the new TV deal kicks in, the 20 Premier League clubs will be among the 30 richest clubs in Europe. They will all be capable of matching the living wage criteria without having to increase ticket prices or scale back on players’ wages. The biggest clubs won’t even notice the small loss of the extra money it will cost them. A commitment to pay a living wage won’t transform the lives of those who work for football clubs, but it would be a step toward forging a closer connection between clubs and their local communities. It might also prompt a change in thought about how they view supporters; not as customers but as custodians and an essential part of the club’s fabric. Supporters wanting lower ticket prices and campaigners wanting clubs to pay a living wage should organise together.

University of Nottingham History graduate. Freelance sportswriter specialising in Football, Cricket and Golf. Interested in the politics of sport.


Jack Wilshere’s injury shows why Arsenal shouldn’t renew his contract

The 26-year-old has been struck down by yet another injury.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Jack Wilshere will be pleased with the progress that he has made since returning to Arsenal from his loan spell at Bournemouth.

He was initially nothing more than a squad player that was out in the cold at international level too, but the midfielder worked hard to gain more game-time in North London.

Across all competitions, he has played more than 30 matches and his form earned him a call-up to the England squad.

It looked like he was getting a once-promising career back on track, but almost like clockwork, he has suffered an injury to set him back once again.

Gareth Southgate confirmed that he wouldn’t be travelling to the Netherlands for Friday’s match and the quotes were reported by Sky Sports.

“It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days.

“We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It’s an ongoing problem and it’s not something new for him. He’s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.

“He’s trained well though but if you think about the journey he’s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he’s progressing really well.”

Although it is encouraging that it isn’t a serious injury, it is a reminder that Jack Wilshere remains a risk for both club and country.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is difficult to build a team around a player that is susceptible to miss matches and the quote from Southgate is a worry as he refers to an ongoing problem.

Arsenal have had a difficult campaign and they will be planning a rebuild over the next 48 months as they transition away from the Arsene Wenger era.

They will have to make tough decisions on many players at the club and Wilshere’s future will be brought into focus over the next few weeks as his contract expires at the end of the season.

There have been numerous reports regarding contract talks between the two parties and there is hesitancy on both sides.

This latest injury suffered by Wilshere and the comments from Southgate referring to an ongoing problem show why it is Arsenal who need to end this association.

Wilshere can’t be relied on to stay fit and to feature prominently in a busy schedule. Arsenal will have ambitions of challenging at the very top of the game and will likely be involved in European competition every season. They need to have a squad of players that are reliable and the 26-year-old isn’t that.

Aside from that, Wilshere represents what Arsenal have become over the last decade. He is a player that had a lot of potential, but he has failed to fulfil it and been very inconsistent at the highest level. Of course, he isn’t to blame for the club’s problems, but he is also unlikely to offer the solutions.

This season has been a nice farewell campaign for him. It would have been sad if his Gunners’ career had ended after being shipped out on loan to Bournemouth.

He has returned to earn some of his credibility back, but the club need to move on and progress if they are to get back to the top of the English game.

A lot of contentious decisions will need to be made and the first should be the release of Jack Wilshere this summer.

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Manchester United

Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line

The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.

Rob Meech



Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty Images

The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.

Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.

Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.

From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.

Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.

Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.

This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.

But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.

In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.

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English Premier League

Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week

The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.



Photo: Getty Images

With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.

Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.

In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.

Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.

The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.

Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.

This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.

If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.

Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.

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