Football for Future calls for environmental sustainability to form part of fan-led review

Football for Future, a new charity focused on promoting sustainability within the sport, is calling for climate change issues to form part of a fan-led review into the governance of the game.

The UK government last month backed proposals to form an independent regulator in English football, endorsing earlier suggestions made as part of a review into the sport.

Football for Future has pointed out that the fan-led review does not make any reference to environmental sustainability or climate change. The group, along with other organisations working in English football, is asking the government to build climate change issues into the review.

In a statement, Football for Future said the link between financial sustainability and environmental sustainability is “clear” and cited the example of League Two club Carlisle United, which was forced out of its stadium in 2015 as a result of Storm Desmond at a cost of £3m (€3.5m/$3.7m).

Football for Future believes clubs will be able to make financial savings by eliminating energy inefficiencies and upgrading to environmentally sustainable infrastructure, while also exploring sponsorship opportunities from within the sector.

Football for Future is leading a group of organisations that also includes newly-promoted League One club Forest Green Rovers, which has been verified by FIFA as the world’s “greenest” football club. Other organisations include charity Pledgeball and the British Association for Sustainable Sport.

The organisations believe the fan-led review’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion action plans could be extended to include environmental sustainability. It has also been suggested that clubs could develop environmental sustainability action plans.

Barney Weston, co-director of Football for Future, said: “We are calling on the government to consult the football and climate sector, to incorporate environmental sustainability into the fan-led review white paper – and support English football to become more environmentally sustainable.

“In our experience – clubs often want to improve their environmental performance, but feel they lack the knowledge, skills, and finance to do it. This is the government’s chance to support them. We invite other English football fans and organisations to collaborate with us to make this a reality. Contact us through our website.”

Dale Vince, chairman of Forest Green, added: “This is an absolutely historic moment for football in our country, we‘re about to have a big reset of the ‘rules of the game’ – off the pitch – and not adding sustainable criteria now, given all the targets we have as a country and as a world and the clear need for more action from all sectors – is just the most massive open goal – about to be missed.

“On top of this we know football is a powerful platform and influencer, even on this topic – our experience at FGR shows this. The environment has to be added to the white paper – it just has to be. Football is about to get a regulator, it has to regulate environmental performance alongside the other vital criteria. Only good can come from that.”

Image: Jack Hunter on Unsplash