The Football Association (FA) and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) have been urged to support a Unite campaign to eradicate unpaid internships and national minimum wage abuses at Britain’s top football clubs.
Unite, the largest union in the country, has written to FA chairman Greg Dyke and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor to blow the whistle on such practices.
This follows in the wake of the revelation that the taxman was probing 44 Premier League and Championship clubs, after receiving evidence of workplace exploitation at some clubs.
In his letter to the FA and PFA, Unite director of executive policy Steve Turner asked both organisations “to stamp out the use of unpaid internships and below minimum wage payments to club staff, including cleaners and maintenance operatives, mascots, ball boy supervisors and those employed under contract to perform catering and security operations.”
Unite contrasts the riches enjoyed by top flight players taking home an average of £30,000-a-week, while some of those working in one of Britain’s most lucrative and glamorous industries may not earn the national minimum wage of £6.19 an hour.
Unite estimates that a worker on the national minimum wage would have to work for one hour and 34 minutes to afford those match day staples – a programme, pie and a pint – at a Premiership club, where the three items total an average of £9.75.
Steve Turner added: “Unite believes that in a sport where top flight players can be paid in excess of £250,000 a week (the equivalent of earning the current living wage in under four seconds), it is obscene that clubs can be seen to be exploiting the dreams of our youth through the use of unpaid internships, failing to ensure that, at least, a ‘living wage’ is paid to support staff and all contracted workers.
“Or, in the case of Portsmouth FC, using schemes such as the government’s workfare programme to exploit our young unemployed as ‘free labour’.”
Steve Turner, a lifelong Millwall fan, acknowledges that many clubs operate first class community schemes that have helped many young people into the game, but much morethan that could be done.
For further information please contact Unite press office on 020 3371 2065
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.