An immediate solution to the Premier Leagues’ sustainability woes?

Premier League football teams have been thrust under the media spotlight due to their use of private jets. While it’s natural for us to defend the position that their transportation methods are reasonable, there is a compelling argument to suggest that clubs could be doing more to enhance their sustainability credentials.

A recent BBC article highlighting the scope of the Premier League’s private jet use has raised concerns about the sustainability credentials of high-profile sports organisations. In the article, the BBC Sport research team analysed 81 short-haul domestic flights made by Premier League teams to and from 100 matches during a two-month period earlier this year. Against the backdrop of domestic commercial flights, the sample size does of course appear rather diminutive, however, this certainly shouldn’t prevent teams from doing more to reduce their environmental impact.

The article strikes a fine balance between the practical and physical health benefits of football teams flying privately, while also considering the relative environmental consequences. However, it fails to mention the potential for Sustainable Aviation Fuel use and how immediate its impact could be.

Here at Victor, we believe that Sustainable Aviation Fuel is the safest and most efficient option available now for football teams to decarbonise their domestic charter flights. The good news is that Premier League clubs can afford it, and encouragingly a few of them are seriously considering SAF ahead of the 2023/24 season. With that being said, a certain degree of hesitancy and a lack of initiative is still preventing the use of SAF from becoming common practice in the sporting world.

Although it is slightly more expensive than traditional fossil fuels, there already exists a range of enormous environmental benefits. Apart from the fact that it keeps fossil fuels in the ground, where they belong, it is also important to note that SAF is made from 100% renewable waste and residue raw materials such as cooking oils – meaning that the same oil used to fry a chip in McDonald’s could be used to fly the next Champions League finalists to a football stadium.

Ultimately, SAF reduces greenhouse emissions by 80%, is 100% safe, and is 100% available now. There is no silver bullet for solving private aviation’s carbon emissions problem, however, steps can be made to reduce its negative impact. This is particularly pertinent considering that four top-flight clubs (Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton) are already signatories to the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework.

If Premier League clubs want to take their sustainability commitments to the next level, they will have to agree to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, be net zero by 2040, and report annually and publicly on the progress towards these goals. If this is the case, then conversations surrounding the use of SAF will become absolutely paramount over the coming years.

Will Taylor, Senior Associate for Commercial Jet Charters at Victor, offered some practical insight into the world of Premier League jet travel, “For Premier League clubs I would recommend an Embraer 145, which is a regional jet aircraft, with 49 or 50 economy class seats. It has good availability in the UK and is well suited for a team of 40/45 passengers. Importantly, this aircraft also typically has a low fuel burn. At Victor, within the quote, we highlight the fuel burn of the aircraft so that our clients can make more sustainable choices, so for example, we could recommend an ATR72 over an E145 as it has a lower fuel burn rate. For teams to align with their targets set to become net-zero, through our Pay Here, Use There model, purchasing SAF for their charter flights still remains one of the few practical ways to credibly reduce their environmental impact when flying privately.”

Embraer 145

The statistics behind this issue alone are cause for concern, however, there are other impacts to consider which are far more difficult to measure. In the same article, Dale Vince, Chairman of League One side Forest Green, regarded as the world’s most sustainable football team, pointed out, “The carbon impact is one thing… I think the bigger impact is the emotional one, the intellectual one, you’ve got Premier League teams setting a very bad example for the rest of the country… when we are desperately in need of getting to net zero.”

At Victor, members are able to purchase Neste MY SAF™ at check out, making Victor the first and only on-demand private jet charter provider to credibly offer SAF for every booking, regardless of operator or departure airport. After completing the purchase, Victor members will receive a receipt stating the amount of Neste MY SAF™ purchased and, later on, a delivery confirmation confirming the total GHG emission reductions achieved.

As it stands, the Premier League cannot state, hand on heart, that it is doing its very best to be as sustainable as possible. However, if a massive entity such as the Premier League was able to prove that it was credibly reducing its carbon footprint, then a potential domino effect could unfold. The Premier League could, quite feasibly, set a new green standard that will inspire fans and organisations around the world by committing to the adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.