A new report from the Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) has looked at how Premier League clubs tackle sustainability. The BRASS Working Paper notes that the sporting industry – including football clubs - has been "somewhat slower" than other industries in taking on environmental practices and developing so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies.
There is a growing pressure on all businesses to show 'social responsibility' for the company's impact on the community, environment and stakeholders by embedding CSR strategies into their business model. Sporting executives have reported pressures from corporate partners, customers, employees and other stakeholders to increase CSR engagement. Professional football clubs are hardly different from other medium-sized multinational companies, and their impact, for instance on the environment, is undeniable.
Heledd Jenkins interviewed representatives from 23 football clubs – the 20 Premier League clubs for the 2011/12 season including the three newcomers, and the three relegated clubs. The researcher investigated how much difference the gain or loss of a Premiership venue affected a club's ability to put in place environmental sustainability measures.
Environmental issues considered most frequently are energy, waste, public transport and the supply chain - with biodiversity, climate change and environmental education as lesser concerns. Although all clubs agreed that water use was a major environmental issue, only small steps had been taken towards conserving water.