Call for football stars to think green

Following news late last week that all 20 of England’s Premier League clubs have committed to developing robust environmental sustainability policies by the end of the 2024/25 season, we are asking footballers to step up and speak out with a green commitment to move their pensions and investments away from the fossil fuel industry.

With making your pension green being 21 x more powerful at cutting carbon than giving up flying, going veggie and switching your energy provider, where footballers choose to invest their fortunes becomes all the more important.

If every Premier League player moved their investments and pensions away from the oil-guzzling fossil fuel industry and into impact investments, that would be equivalent to £120 million each year being taken out of polluting industries and into the solutions of the future.

In reality the annual impact would be far greater, if players from other teams got involved and if footballers harnessed their huge social media followings to create a football force for change. Premier League players influence cannot go understated as well, with over 341 million fans following the top twenty players on Instagram alone, using their platforms to spread the word about green pensions could also even the playing field between the big oil companies and the urgent need to save the planet and reach net zero targets.

There are stark warnings that the global football industry produces at least 30 million tons of carbon dioxide every year – about the same as a small country such as Denmark – and the footballing world has come under intense scrutiny over their carbon-intensive antics in recent years; just last year, FIFA were slammed for making false claims about Qatar being the first “net zero” world cup. It is crystal clear that more can be done by the league’s top earners to use their power, influence and – most importantly – investments, to deliver on a serious effort to reduce the sport’s climate impact.

With the average annual wage of a Premier League footballer hitting an eyewatering £3 million and showing no signs of slowing down, if players invested 5% of their earnings into green pensions and investments then at least £60 million could go towards bettering the planet through green initiatives. If they all upped this to 10% of their earnings this could become a whopping £120 million a year.[1] Big name players such as Premier League’s top earner Kevin De Bruyne could make the most sustained difference, if he invested 10% of his £20.8 million annual salary.

David Macdonald, founder of Path Financial says:

In a single year, £100,000 invested in a green pension could avoid 32 tonnes of CO2 emissions. When you consider this in relation to £120 million, and the huge amount of carbon dioxide the football industry generates every year, Premier League footballers can begin to make an impact that soon becomes the industry norm.

And that figure is just for the players in the Premier League. We hope that green investments can become commonplace across the global football community – amongst staff, head coaches, owners, and FIFA.

It’s worth noting that ever-changing rules for top earners means their pensions are very much up for debate – factoring in annual and life-time allowances may limit the amount players can pay into green pension pots, however the top-earners undoubtedly have a large amount of excess capital that can be invested in green initiatives.

David added:

Premier League clubs should commit to outlining the benefits of green pensions across the industry – how the players can get one, what they can invest in, and the benefits of investing green. They could also work with the professional football association to highlight the sustainability of their workplace pensions as well.

Some football clubs are already ahead of the game – namely, Forest Green Rovers, who are the greenest football club in the world.

And it’s not just footballers who could make their money and investments greener – everyone can. We want footballers and clubs to use their influence to make sure everyone, players and fans alike, stops and thinks about what their money is funding and encourage them to make any change they can. Path Financial exists to advise people how to make that change happen.

Contact us to learn more about ethical pensions or show your support by tagging us on socials.

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Path Financial are leading ethical financial advisers based in the UK.

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[1] This analysis was based on the average yearly wage of a premier league player being £3million ref. 5% invested annually would be £150,000, 10% invested annually would be £300,000. Based on 20 players per team. 20 teams x 20 players, 400 people x £150,000 = £60m, 400 people x £300,000 = £120m