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Is it possible for football clubs to ignore their quest for convenience and start traveling more sustainably. That’s the question posed by Pledgeball, an organization that has been encouraging England teams to reduce their environmental impact for years.
A new sustainability charter has been launched by Pledgeball together with the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) and English Football League (EFL) clubs to help football teams in this endeavour.
It is dictated by the growing number of short-haul domestic flights in England. They are mostly used by Premier League clubs. Back in 2021, it was reported that Manchester United decided to take a plane before a match with Leicester, despite the distance between the two cities being less than 200 kilometers. The “Red Devils” spent less than 20 minutes in the air, but this was not the only case.
Earlier this year, Nottingham took a 20-minute flight to Blackpool for their FA Cup tie. The bus trip would take the team less than three hours.
However, Pledgeball revealed that the club that used the plane the most was not even professional. This is Wrexham, which is owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The club has used 16 domestic grounds in the 2022–23 season in the National League, a division in which no other team flies.
On the occasion of their initiative, Pledgeball and the other participants add that Premier League clubs are among the biggest culprits in the negative impact on the environment. It is estimated that England’s elite teams generate an average of 56.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per season due to travel, around 85% of which is due to flights to and from matches.
“Football clubs’ reliance on short-haul flights is at odds with their sustainability strategies,” says Katie Cross, CEO of Pledgeball.
“This charter aims to tackle the elephant in the room and help clubs introduce more sustainable travel practices into their operations and set an example to fans and the public that climate action means talking.”
Pledgeball added that they are discussing their venture with several clubs, but it is not yet clear if they will receive support from Premier League teams. The charter states that clubs will be encouraged to choose a more sustainable mode of travel.
A number of Premier League clubs currently use trains, but only for their journeys to London. This is mainly caused by ground and air traffic in the English capital.
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