Dear Mr McNally,
I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the news that Norwich City FC are committed to introducing the living wage — as set by The Living Wage Foundation — to all permanent colleagues across the business by the 2016/17 season, as well as reviewing wage policies of external agencies and contractors who work at the club, to make sure staff also receive the Living Wage by 2016-17. Whilst this is a great step forward in becoming a club that takes its social responsibility seriously, we’re still lagging way behind on environmental sustainability.
One club that’s made huge strides forward in this area is Forest Green Rovers, owned by Dale Vince, the founder of the green energy company — Ecotricity. Since taking over in 2010 the club has implemented many measures to improve their environmental performance and in doing so has achieved the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) — the gold standard for environmental performance, along with international recognition as the world’s leading club in this field.
Forest Green are a club at the forefront of sustainable food, having become the first club to serve a meat free diet to players, staff and fans alike, using as much local and organic produce as possible. It seems they are not alone in their thinking; Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero also recently ditched meat in a bid to improve his performance.
Meat based diets are acknowledged as one of the major contributors to global emissions, using up vast amounts of water, land, and energy per kg of food produced in comparison to vegetarian and vegan diets. Whilst reduced consumption of meat has strong links to better health outcomes, including lower risks of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
However, despite having celebrity chef Delia Smith as our majority shareholder, we have done little to innovate our menus in recognition of the environmental and health consequences associated with our product offering. There is little-to-no vegan or vegetarian offering as part of the matchday menu, or in Yellows restaurant. Instead supporters must choose from a matchday hot selection of poor quality processed pork hotdogs, beef burgers, and mainly meat pastries.
The Stroud-based Vanarama Conference side have also put their club at the heart of the community, by supporting the economy through local sourcing of products. On our doorstep is a county steeped in agricultural tradition, with an abundance of suppliers using ingredients straight from Norfolk farms. In and around Norwich we have a number of fantastic breweries (Redwell/FatCat/Woodfordes — to name a few), whose drinks we should be showcasing at Carrow Road. Making our home a home for the best of Norfolk and Norwich produce would not only be a boost to employment in the area, it would also reduce food our carbon impact from food miles.
Reducing carbon emissions is certainly an area that the aptly named ‘Green Devils’ have excelled in, having installed solar PV along their New Lawn stadium rooftops, kicking out 45Kw of power. Additional eco initiatives at their ground have included converting to an organic pitch, partly irrigated by collected rain water, introducing an e-ticket service, to reduce paper use and the need to travel to the ground to collect tickets, as well as working on low-energy floodlighting.
I would like to applaud your role in the management of the club since taking over as CEO. From both a footballing and financial standpoint you’ve steered the club out of the abyss, back to where we belong. Without detracting from these important focuses, I ask you to turn your attention to improving our environmental credentials by making a commitment to achieving the Eco Management and Audit Scheme accreditation and becoming a zero carbon club. Not only is this a moral imperative, committing to EMAS will result in global coverage for the club, reaching a new level of support among climate activists worldwide. I have launched an online petition to gain support for this proposal and look forward to working with you to become the first Premier League club to achieve this standard.
Rowan Van Tromp
Season Ticket Holder & Communities Section Writer at The Norwich Radical