The Premier League is facing calls to reduce its carbon footprint after research by BBC Sport showed it had commissioned 81 flights for 100 domestic football matches. The fixtures included 82 Premier League matches and 13 FA Cup games where the team was playing away from home. Evidence of 81 individual domestic flights was found by BBC Sport, which analysed Flightradar 24 data. The news will only further inflame the debate around sport and domestic flights, with Premier League clubs using planes to transport players across short distances, rather than choosing rail or road.
Some of the journeys, taken in the first three months of this year alone, were just 27 minutes long. The longest was only 77 minutes long. And the study also revealed insights into positioning flights, where almost empty planes fly to conveniently located UK airports to move players and support staff back and forth to fixtures. Within the three-month period, 37 of these positioning flights were reserved for player use.
The controversy with this approach, of course, relates to greenhouse gases, as the aviation industry is widely held as being one of the most polluting in existence, with jet and turboprop propulsion emitting C02 and other greenhouse gases as a plane burns fuel. Emissions per mile travelled are higher by plane than any other type of transport and short-haul flights are the worst offenders, according to official government data.
The Premier League will now be under pressure to explain its travel strategy and to justify why so many flights - including positioning or 'empty leg' flights are being used to transport players and staff for short UK journeys when rail or road could be used. As the UK gears up to fight climate change, the pressure will now be on to change their approach.