Wolves make moves as Liverpool, Tottenham maintain sustainability leadership

Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England

Featured image credit: Rob Ridley

Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England

Featured image credit: Rob Ridley

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have retained their leadership position in Sport Positive Leagues’ annual ranking of the environmental sustainability efforts of English Premier League clubs, with Wolverhampton Wanderers the big mover.

For the fourth time, Sport Positive Leagues, part of the Sport Positive group which organises the annual Sport Positive Summit, has collated a cross section of information, resulting in the Sport Positive Leagues EPL 2022 Matrix.

Liverpool and Tottenham remain in joint first position for the second year running, with scores of 24/27. Liverpool initially moved up to join Tottenham in last year’s rankings. Manchester City places third (23/27) and Southampton fourth (20/27), with the two clubs having previously been on a level footing.

Sport Positive Leagues said it had the collaboration of every Premier League club in sharing or verifying all the information that is included. For the 2022-23 season update, points across various categories were updated to make it more difficult to achieve top points unless the club is working holistically across all sites, in a systematic way and with continued ambition.

Sustainable Procurement was added as a new category, along with Sponsorship/Ownership, although the latter doesn’t have scoring as Sport Positive Leagues is yet to determine a formula to conclusively measure this.

All teams lost points for taking domestic flights, a new scoring element this season, and something which has become a talking point of late in English football. Liverpool and Tottenham are two of four clubs to report their emissions publicly, along with Manchester City and Wolves.

Tottenham Hotspur executive director, Donna-Maria Cullen, said: “We are proud to have been named at the top of the Sport Positive league table for a fourth year running. As a club, we are acutely aware of the role we can play in addressing the threat posed by climate change and have embedded environmental sustainability within everything we do.

“It is extremely important we take our players with us on this journey and the first-of-its-kind training we have recently facilitated for all teams is a huge part of this. We also acknowledge there is still so much more to do as we work towards achieving our net zero target of 2040.”

Ben Latty, Liverpool’s commercial director and executive sponsor of the club’s The Red Way sustainability strategy, added: “As a global football club we know we have a responsibility to help inspire and encourage positive changes in behaviour. We also acknowledged that to become a true leader in this space, and to place sustainability firmly at the heart of who we were, we had to create a more holistic and centralised approach.

“That led to the launch of The Red Way in 2021. The positive actions of our colleagues and partners, working together to make a real difference, has allowed The Red Way to develop and thrive. So much so that it is now a fundamental part of everything that we do. But we’re also aware there is more for us to do and we have ambitious targets moving forward.”

The categories that clubs are evaluated on for this edition of the Sport Positive Leagues matrix include: commitment 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, communications/engagement and sustainable procurement.

Brighton & Hove Albion sits in fifth place with a score of 19.5/27, with Arsenal in sixth (18). In joint seventh come Manchester United and Wolves (17.5). The Molineux club has made big moves in the new rankings having sat in last year’s ‘relegation places’ with a score of 10.5/24.

In ninth comes Brentford (16.5) and in joint tenth Chelsea and Crystal Palace (16). Positions 12 to 16 are occupied by Everton (15), Leicester City (14), West Ham United (13), Newcastle (12.5) and Aston Villa (10.5).

Fulham and Leeds United (10) are in joint 17th, while there is then a big drop off to the bottom two spots occupied by Bournemouth (6.5) and Nottingham Forest (4.5).

In regard to the work that Premier League clubs are doing in this space, Sport Positive founder Claire Poole said: “Every year we do this, we see ever more examples of progress from all clubs; with more carbon emission reduction commitments, transparent reporting on scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, adopting or pioneering innovation, engaging players and more.

“We are also heartened to see the number of clubs that have or are currently recruiting sustainability managers, which will enable greater focus and pace in this critical area. We congratulate clubs for their efforts towards a sustainable future, but in concert with the clubs underline there is still much to do in many areas.”