Manchester food banks urge Premier League clubs to pay staff real living wage

Cleaners and caterers at Manchester’s Premier League football clubs are “struggling to put food on the table”, the city’s food banks have warned.

Manchester food banks have written to executives at City and United urging them to pay their staff the real living wage of £9.30 an hour.

This rate, calculated by the independent thinktank the Resolution Foundation, is higher than the statutory “national living wage” of £8.72 an hour and is set to change next week.

Their letter comes as the campaign to end child food poverty spearheaded by the Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, who has spoken of benefiting from free school meals while growing up, continues to gain traction.

An alliance of leading charities, unions, doctors and dentists wrote to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, on Wednesday urging him to adopt Rashford’s plan to prevent children going hungry over the Christmas holiday.

However, Rashford’s club and its near-neighbour are not accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

Matt Stallard, the chair of the city’s central food bank, said many of the people who accessed the service were in work but earned less than the living wage.

The charity’s letter, addressed to Ferran Soriano at City and Ed Woodward at United, said: “Both clubs are loved by so many in the city, and many have been inspired by the vital work your clubs have done during the pandemic, especially the incredible campaign led by Marcus Rashford MBE to tackle child food poverty.

“But the reality is that many of your own staff, including caterers and cleaners, are themselves struggling to put food on the table because they don’t earn the real living wage.”

According to the Living Wage Foundation, only five Premier League clubs – Everton, Liverpool, West Ham, Chelsea and Crystal Palace – pay staff the real living wage.

Conor McGurran, the co-chair of Greater Manchester Citizens, who also signed the letter, said Rashford’s campaigning had “united a city of reds and blues”.

He added: “Whilst both Manchester City and Manchester United undertake a great deal of valuable work within our communities, there is one simple step that both clubs could take to reduce child poverty within our city.

“It’s proven that the real living wage lifts families out of poverty – that’s why Greater Manchester Citizens is calling on our two successful and wealthy football clubs to become living wage accredited.”

Both United and City continued to pay staff in full during the first national lockdown rather than use the government-backed furlough scheme.

United, along with the club’s foundation and through their partnership with the FareShare charity, distributed 5,000 meals to children eligible for free school meals during the October half-term.

United said: “Given the size of the club and with such a varied workforce across a number of specialist areas, staff salaries do differ, depending on their remit.

“However, all permanent and temporary employees, whether engaged on a full- or part-time basis, are paid the national living wage.”

Manchester City have also been approached for comment.