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CHANGING PERCEPTIONS: EFL clubs are being encouraged to go green

 

EFL clubs are to be given guidance on how to become more environmentally sustainable.

The ‘EFL Green Clubs’ scheme has just launched and sees the league partner with GreenCode, an accreditation scheme born from the work of environmentalist Dale Vince and his team at League Two club Forest Green.

Clubs wishing to take part will be audited to establish their starting position and then given bespoke advice on how to implement change.

Vince, the chair of Forest Green, said the scheme is about a gradual move towards sustainability.

“It’s really important to make anyone that’s going green – whether it’s a football club or an individual – realise you don’t need to do everything overnight. That’s really daunting,” he said.

“The important thing is to get started. The GreenCode is about helping people get started by measuring where they’re at now, that ground position, then you can start looking at things and saying ‘let’s change this, let’s change that’.”

Vince said the main areas to look at are energy, transport and food.

“With energy it’s about powering yourself with green electricity. We’ve put solar panels in the roof of one of our stands, so we make 20 per cent of our electricity. The rest we bring in from the grid, but from a windmill just up the road,” he said.

“The golden rule with energy, transport and food is reduce what you use, waste less and what you do use, source more sustainably.

“For transport we’ve got electric charging points for fans, our head coach and our kit man have got electric cars, and we’re going to travel to an away game later this season in an electric coach, that will be the first time that has been done.

“On food, we’re plant-based across the whole club. That probably took a bit more work than the other things we did but it’s the thing that has given us the most media attention and it’s gone down really well with our fans ultimately.

“It’s just taken people time to adjust to the idea. The food itself is fantastic and that’s what we’re hoping people would buy into.”

Asked how he would convince fellow EFL chairs and chief executives to get involved in the scheme, he said: “First off, we all have an impact on the environment and it’s our responsibility to be aware of what that is and to reduce it ultimately to zero.

“That’s the way the world is moving and we have got to play our part.

“Secondly, your fans will expect it. Customers of any business expect that business to take responsibility for their own environmental impact. Anybody that doesn’t do this is really behind the curve.

“Thirdly, football is a great platform for influencing people, and we can get on the front foot by doing this and help to encourage our fans to change how they live.”

EFL chief executive Trevor Birch said: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing mankind today and therefore it is vitally important that the EFL and its clubs take steps to improve and minimise our environmental impact.

“Professional football will not be immune to the effects of the climate crisis and there has never been a more important time for the EFL and its clubs to make a collective commitment in this area.”

Premier League clubs have made some small changes, but many have been criticized for their lack of climate action, with many using planes to fly short distances when playing away.


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