Fans lead calls for Villa to pay Living Wage

“Stand up for the community” call over staff payment.

Aston Villa will be unveiling a multi-million pound line-up for their first home game of the season against Manchester United on Friday. Yet for many of the unsung heroes behind the scenes at Villa Park, the wages they earn for making sure the evening goes off without a hitch will be less than the cost of a match ticket.

It is believed that around a third of the club’s employees earn the basic minimum wage – many of them match-day staff employed via agencies on zero hours contracts.

Now, the community alliance Citizens UK Birmingham are calling on the club to sign up as an accredited Living Wage Employer, which would ensure that all the club’s employees earn enough to enjoy an acceptable standard of living, currently calculated as £7.85 an hour outside London .

So far just a handful of Premier League clubs, including champions Chelsea and newly-promoted Norwich City, have committed to paying all of their staff the Living Wage, but several lower league clubs have also taken the step. Citizens UK Birmingham are hopeful that Villa will do likewise. Fans will take a lead in raising the issue inside and outside Villa Park.

Campaign spokesperson Rev. David Butterworth, of Birmingham Methodist Circuit, said, “By becoming the first Living Wage-accredited football club in the Midlands and paying all their staff appropriately, the club would not only set a good example to local companies in the rest of the Midlands, it would also show that Aston Villa FC appreciates its historic role and roots in the local area.”

Amongst the campaign’s supporters is Matthew Tehan, head of St Chad’s Primary School in Newtown and a season ticket holder at Villa Park, who says “I know the struggle that most of our families have. They work for the national minimum wage and it’s not enough. My club should be willing to stand up and act for the good of the community.”