Scottish football clubs failing on living wage

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Over half of football clubs in the Scottish Premiership employ staff who are paid below the “living wage”, a BBC Scotland investigation has found.

Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United, Hamilton, Motherwell, Partick Thistle and St Johnstone were found to be paying less than £7.85 an hour, the informal benchmark regarded by many as the minimum required to cover the basic cost of living.

Dundee United are amongst the Scottish club who are failing to pay the living wage. Picture: SNS

Dundee United are amongst the Scottish club who are failing to pay the living wage. Picture: SNS

All of the clubs pay the statutory minimum wage of £6.70 or above.

Hearts is the only Scottish club which is an accredited living wage employer, and the BBC was unable to establish what the pay rates at the remaining clubs were.

The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) has complained that its clubs have been unfairly singled out by the BBC, which also questioned 50 of Scotland’s biggest employers.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “It’s really unacceptable.

Can I ask, why is football the target of focus here and not any other individual sector?

Neil Doncaster

“We would say the same about the majority of businesses in any other sector not paying the living wage, we really think that they can.

“These are clubs that are leaders very often in their communities. They need to be showing leadership in terms of pay as well. There’s a lot more they could be doing.”

The clubs named declined to issue a comment to the BBC individually and referred the survey on the SPFL.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The SPFL - speaking for its member clubs - feels strongly that Scottish football is, again, being very unfairly singled out for scrutiny.

“Can I ask, why is football the target of focus here and not any other individual sector?

“Our clubs and their staff carry out huge amounts of positive work in their communities and through charitable initiatives of which the SPFL is very proud and we feel these activities are richly deserving of attention and focus.

“In addition, the survey seeks commercially sensitive information such as average player wages, which we would expect no club to volunteer on this basis.

“However, this response is not about player wages or the issue of the living wage, which in its own right is a deserving topic for balanced investigation. It is about Scottish football and SPFL clubs being treated fairly and refusing to be singled out as a sector.

“This is something which has occurred regularly in recent years and our clubs, rightly, feel less encouraged to complete surveys such as these which only seem to lead to negative reporting with no sense of balance.”

The findings will be broadcast on BBC Scotland Investigates: Low Pay For Life at 8.30pm tonight on BBC One Scotland.