They are one of the biggest football clubs in the world. A club that recently agreed to pay Alexis Sanchez a reported £350,000 per week after tax. And in José Mourinho (above), they have a manager earning £15million per year. Yet Manchester United are not a Real Living Wage employer.
A group calling themselves Manchester Citizens hope to change this. They have written an open letter calling for the world’s richest football club to commit to paying security staff, cleaners and caterers a living wage of £8.75 per hour.
The letter addressed to Ed Woodward, Manchester United’s executive vice chairman, comes from a group of leaders from faith, educational and community institutions. They are backed by parents, parishioners, students, local residents and football fans.
Everyone who makes the magic of match day happen deserves to live with dignity
The letter says: “We’re asking you to do the right thing on behalf of the lowest paid staff at Manchester United football club, who have told us of their struggles on low pay in a time when football players are receiving a king’s ransom in wages every week.
“We are asking you to show leadership by taking a community-first business approach to ensure the cost of living is met for low-paid workers.”
We are delighted to announce the signing of @Alexis_Sanchez from Arsenal.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018
The letter continues: “The community spirit and passion of low-paid staff has helped to build the club’s prestigious reputation as the Theatre of Dreams.
“Workers who dedicate time spent away from their families; cleaners and security staff who work on night shifts; everyone who makes the magic of match day happen deserves to live with dignity.
As the transfer window closes many workers at Old Trafford will be choosing between putting the heating on or a hot meal
“We acknowledge the vital contribution that Manchester United FC makes to the UK economy as a global brand. We would be delighted if this boost could be reflected in a wage uplift for all low-paid staff, including sub-contracted workers and casual part time staff.”
The letter goes on to detail how some young people working as match day staff are paid less than £7 per hour and have spoken to the group about their difficulty in making ends meet.
Reverend Ian Rutherford, Chair of Greater Manchester Citizens, said: “As the winter transfer window closes many workers at Old Trafford will be choosing between putting the heating on or a hot meal.
“We’ve heard many stories about the real cost of life on low pay for workers at Old Trafford, many of whom are employed directly and struggling to live with dignity.
“We are calling on Manchester United, which already makes such a positive contribution to the UK economy, to show leadership by recognising the asks of the local community and acknowledging that fair pay can go a long way to improve the lives of their employees at the other end of the pay scale.”
So far, Chelsea, Everton and West Ham are the only Premier League clubs to commit to paying all employees the real living wage, having joined forces with the Living Wage Foundation.
Neil James, executive director of community organising group Citizens UK, who are behind the campaign, said: “We would urge all fans and their communities to get behind our campaign for all Premier League Clubs to become accredited living wage employers and pay a real living wage.”
While the government’s National Living Wage is currently £7.50 per hour for over 25s (£7.05 for 21-24-year-olds and £5.60 for 18-24 year olds), the Real Living Wage, calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission based on the cost of living is £8.75 hour outside of London and £10.20 per hour in the capital.
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Among the letter’s signatories are: Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen of Jacksons Row Synagogue, Bishop of Salford John Arnold, Ashraf Ali – General Manager of the British Muslim Heritage Centre, Father William Pearsall – Universities Catholic Chaplaincy and Stretford an Urmston MP Kate Green.
Before the season began, Manchester United star Juan Mata became the first top level footballer to commit to Common Goal. The charity fund aims to harness football’s millions to effect social change.
The player said: “Through Common Goal we’re creating a collaborative way for football to give back to society. I urge my fellow players to get involved.”
Will the rest of his club catch up with their forward-thinking playmaker? Watch this space…