Water reuse Analysis Europe

How water efficient are the top football teams?

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Which team tops the table when it comes to water efficiency table and who is fighting relegation? We check out the Sport Positive Sustainability rankings.

A tale of two tables

There is no escaping the fact that in the past 10 years, football has become dominated by 'super-power' clubs.

Football clubs that have incredibly wealthy owners and financial backing almost guarantees that their teams sit on top of the table.

While clubs like Newcastle United are spending £91.89 million to try and avoid relegation, how are the 20 Premier League clubs ranking when it comes to sustainability and water efficiency?

The Sport Positive Leagues, launched in 2019, has for the past three years ranked Premier League clubs on 11 different sustainability categories, assigning points, in order to determine a league table.

As well as water efficiency, the categories include clean energy, waste management and education and communications and engagement on sustainability.

So who are the winners? Topping the sustainability table first place is Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, with both teams scoring 23 out of a maximum 24.

Current Premier League leaders Manchester City are sitting third on the sustainability table on 21 points and are also joined by Southampton, who in contrast in the Premier League find themselves only 10 points off relegation.

“The table is not about pitting clubs against each other but instead marks efforts towards a more sustainable and water-efficient league.”

The biggest shocks come with current Champions League holders Chelsea, who while mounting a title race on the pitch, find themselves in mid-table mediocrity in terms of sustainability.

Meanwhile, newly anointed richest club in the Premier League, Newcastle United, scored a mere 10 out of 24 that puts them firmly in bottom place - not to dissimilar to the team’s current league position.

However, the Sport Positive Leagues are quick to note that its table is not about pitting clubs against each other. Instead, a fluid real-time ranking that marks each Premier League clubs’ efforts towards a more sustainable and water-efficient league.

With that in mind, the real question is, how seriously are football clubs treating water?

Liverpool Salah-brate water

Looking at the sustainability table, only nine of the Premier League clubs score maximum marks when it comes to water efficiency.

Liverpool earns its top spot with its water comprehensive water management programme well underway with the club investing in reducing and reusing water at its Academy, AXA Training Centre and Anfield stadium.

“Liverpool’s training centre also features a Waste2Water facility, a custom on-site wash and wastewater recycling system.”

Liverpool CEO Billy Hogan said the club was "incredibly excited" with joint first place.

"The environment is incredibly important to the club and only becoming more so. I think probably like all organisations we're all concerned about the impact that we have on the environment and on our local communities," he added.

Liverpool's AXA Training Centre also features a Waste2Water facility, a custom on-site wash and wastewater recycling system bespoke to the needs of the club.

Rainwater capturing in stadiums

Manchester City has made a clear commitment to water with its partnership with water technology company Xylem. This has resulted in campaigns like Be A Water Hero and The End Of Football, both depicting the need to focus on global water challenges.

On top of this, Manchester City also has in place a surface and rainwater capture system that harvests and recycles water over and over for irrigation and greywater use. Furthermore, it installed a harvesting system under the pitch at its Etihad Stadium that can store 500 cubic metres of water for continual irrigation.

“The key denominator between these clubs is that each of them has a water strategy in place.”

Newcastle United, while scoring zero in four categories, scored maximum points for water efficiency with a programme in place with an external provider that uses software to monitor water usage weekly and reports any discrepancies recycling systems in place. It also sources from a borehole at training grounds.

Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Norwich City, Chelsea and Newcastle United are the only teams to achieve a maximum water efficiency score.

The key denominator between these clubs is that each of them has a water strategy in place on how they use, monitor and reuse water in both stadiums and training grounds.

An ongoing project for Football

The Sport Positive Leagues has been operating for three years recording the water and sustainability efforts of Premier League Clubs. This year it has also covered the German first division, the Bundesliga and is also expanding into the top flights of the Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A.

Being able to look back at three years’ worth of information on what football clubs are doing shows that it is on an upward trajectory.

In 2020, Aston Villa was at the bottom, receiving a score of seven out of 24. This year, they are twelfth with a score of 13.5 out of 24.

The produced data shows that more clubs are taking their water use more seriously. While some clubs are performing better on the pitch than in sustainability, all of the clubs are on the right track to better manage their water.

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