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Old 23rd October 2015, 11:47   #1
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Default Clubs awash with cash but foot soldiers are treated disgracefully

Living Wage campaign: Clubs awash with cash but foot soldiers are treated disgracefully

More than ever that the closest link with the communities in which clubs sit are matchday employees

Glenn Moore Football Editor
23 October 2015

Premier League clubs are increasingly foreign-owned with globally recruited playing and coaching staffs. At the biggest clubs even the supporters are being drawn in from further and further afield. This means more than ever that the closest link with the communities in which clubs sit are matchday employees.

First to arrive, last to leave, rarely even watching the game, they keep supporters safe and fed, clean their environment and manage their arrival and departure. A growing emphasis on customer service means most do so with a cheerful demeanour whatever their real feelings about working zero-hours contracts on paltry wages.

Some will have a positive contact with their local clubs, since modern football clubs do a lot of excellent outreach work in their communities, often filling voids left by cuts in education, welfare and health budgets. But in general the relationship is not what it should be.

Most employees, like most fans, accept the stars can get paid £250,000 a week. Players like Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney have a rarity value that is reflected in their incomes. Yet those on a minimum wage must look at the new TV deal, expected to top £8bn once foreign rights sales are completed, and the multi-million pound sums club executives and owners pay themselves, and feel they are at best taken for granted, at worst treated with contempt.

Since the Glazer family took over at Old Trafford the bottom line has always been the focus. The squad investment of the last two summers has been made because profits fall and sponsors quit if a team stops winning – but it is also affordable, as would be paying everyone employed by the club the National Living Wage. The club expect to exceed £500m in revenue this season while last season, revealed Uefa this week, they were Europe’s most profitable club, making £103m.

Meanwhile, Manchester City, which for its unimaginably wealthy Abu Dhabi owners is an instrument of soft power rather than a cash cow, is finally in profit. While most cash is spent on the team, the club does seem to be moving towards ensuring those employed on the Etihad campus earn respectable wages.

They are not, though, moving with the certainty or speed they could – or the Manchester City Living Wage Campaign would like. And City are not alone. The Premier League is awash with cash, while the shameful wages its clubs pay the foot soldiers who keep the circus on the road are a disgrace.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King
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