Liverpool has enhanced its credentials in the sustainability field by moving up to occupy joint-top position with Tottenham Hotspur in a study of English Premier League football clubs.

The 2021 Premier League Environmental Sustainability Matrix represents the third consecutive year that Sport Positive Leagues, part of the Sport Positive group which organises the annual Sport Positive Summit, has collaborated with all 20 Premier League clubs to understand the work they are doing on environmental sustainability.

Tottenham has retained its first place position for the third year, but has now been joined by Liverpool, which Sport Positive Leagues said has made “huge improvements” to become joint-champions this year. Both clubs scored 23 points out of a maximum of 24 in the assessment.

The categories that clubs are evaluated on currently include: commitments and policy, clean energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, waste management, single use plastic reduction/removal, water efficiency, the availability of low-carbon/plant-based food, biodiversity, education and communications/engagement.

Since the 2020 edition, Sport Positive Leagues has continued to evolve the categories that clubs are evaluated on, now adding in categories on biodiversity and education and splitting out commitment and policy into its own category.

In addition, the points system has been updated so that it is more difficult to reach the maximum points, unless a club is working strategically and holistically, across their entire organisation and sites, as well as making external, long-term commitments to taking action on climate.

Below the top two, Manchester City and Southampton (21/24) finished joint third, with Arsenal and Manchester United occupying fifth spot (19/24). In seventh came Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich City (18.5/24), with Everton standing alone in ninth (16/24).

Chelsea and Leicester City came in joint 10th (14.5/24), followed by Brentford and Aston Villa in 12th (13.5/24). Burnley came in 14th (12/24), with three clubs occupying 15th (11.5/24) – West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Watford.

Newcastle United finished bottom of the table (10/24), with the other two ‘relegation places’ occupied by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leeds United (10.5/24).

For Liverpool, Sport Positive Leagues highlighted the operational framework of The Red Way sustainability strategy which has been certified to ISO20121 by external auditors – the only Premier League club to have this management system standard.

Billy Hogan, Liverpool’s CEO, said: “This is a great achievement for the club, as we continue to create and build a sustainable business, and a sustainable club. Congratulations to Tottenham Hotspur who we share this top spot with.

“As a football club with a global fan base we’re proud to be leading the way on important environmental issues. The Red Way has achieved a lot in its first year. There is so much more to do, but the club has created a solid foundation and is committed to building on this achievement. As we move forward, we will constantly evaluate the way we operate, to operate in the most sustainable way.

“We will continue to strive to provide the tools and opportunities for everyone connected to the club to take meaningful actions that will create a healthy planet and thriving communities.”

Sport Positive Leagues said Tottenham is the only club in the Premier League to have a sustainable transport policy that extends to team travel, while it was also the first team to host a net zero game – ‘Game Zero’ – in 2021.

Tottenham also today (Wednesday) announced that it has joined the UN Race to Zero, committing to halve its carbon emissions by 2030 and become a net zero carbon operation by 2040. A year ago, the club became a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which supports and guides sports organisations globally to achieve climate change goals.

Donna-Maria Cullen, executive director of Tottenham Hotspur, said: “To have once again been named at the top of the Sport Positive League Table is fantastic recognition for the work that continues to be delivered across our organisation – now we must challenge ourselves to go further.

“Joining the UN Race to Zero is a significant next step on our journey and provides us with a clear pathway and emission reduction targets that we are prepared to meet. We look forward to working collectively with our staff, players, fans, partners and suppliers to achieve our goals.”

In regard to the 2021 matrix update and the work that clubs are doing in this space, Sport Positive Leagues founder, Claire Poole, added: “Year-on-year the progress around environmental sustainability that can be seen by the majority of clubs is really impressive. It is very clear how seriously clubs are taking their role in tackling the climate crisis.”

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