Premier League carbon footprint: Why Sky, BT Sport and Amazon make being a 'sustainable supporter' virtually impossible

Unless you have been living under a rock these past few weeks, then you will have heard about the COP26 Climate Change Conference which took place recently in Glasgow.

Brighton and Hove Albion fans were in good voice at Anfield but travelling to away matches by public transport is often problematic
Brighton and Hove Albion fans were in good voice at Anfield but travelling to away matches by public transport is often problematic

It was that thing where world leaders and diplomats flew thousand of miles around the world to Scotland on private jets.

They then spent two weeks driving petrol-gussling cars around the city whilst telling all of us what we needed to do to help save the planet.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Normally, you can guarantee two highlights from these sorts of events. The first is hypocrisy. We were dealt that in bags, be it via President Biden and his motorcade of vehicles stretching for longer than the Trans Siberian Railway. Or Boris Johnson taking a plane back to London one evening to have dinner with a climate change sceptic.

The other highlight is when tenuous links to such major worldwide events appear in the pages of newspapers or on websites where they really should not be.

Sorry to mention a second US President in the space of 300 words, but 'Aberdeenshire Golf Club Owner Wins US Presidential Election' in the Peterhead's weekly Buchan Observer is an absolute classic of the genre.

For COP26, it was sports websites who were keen to be a part of the news cycle. We were treated to a series of articles about what football fans could do to reduce their carbon footprint, become a "sustainable supporter" and help reduce climate change.

Yes, football supporters. As in you and me who watch Brighton & Hove Albion. Not the clubs. Not the Premier League. And certainly not the broadcasters.

Amongst the pearls of wisdom being offered were don't buy a new club shirt every year, watch what you eat, and best of all, take public transport to the game. Forget greenhouse gas, whoever wrote this stuff had been smoking something grown in one.

Where do you begin? Rather than telling supporters not to buy two brand new £60 shirts every year, clubs could go back to the good old days when a replica kit would last two seasons, rather than being produced on an annual basis for the sheer purpose of carrying out open wallet surgery on fans.

In many ways, the food suggestion was the most surreal of the lot. If you have to buy at the stadium then apparently, plant based and locally sourced are your best options.

Brighton do at least sell pies delivered from Piglet's Pantry just around the corner, but plant based options at football grounds across the country are rarer than an electric car charging point.

Even better was that fans should take their own homemade food to grounds and supply their own drinks in a reusable bottle, where possible.

Quick reminder here that flasks are banned from the Amex for being more dangerous than a nuclear weapon, bottles must have their lids removed and you cannot enter the stadium with a bag larger than a piece of A4 paper.

It is nigh on impossible to get in with a small copy of the Bible, let alone a plant based picnic. Such stringent restrictions are of course in place in the name of safety and security and nothing at all to do with forcing fans to spend money on food and drink inside the Amex.

As for taking public transport to games, that is an option hundreds of thousands of football fans across the country would dearly love to have.

The obscene cost of trains in England combined with Sky, BT Sport and Amazon butchering the fixture list with no thought for supporters makes ditching the car an unrealistic option for many.

Other than car, how else are fans meant to get to and from the Amex for an 8pm kick off against Brentford on Boxing Day? Or reach Old Trafford by midday the Saturday before Christmas for a lunchtime kick off?

Often, the only way you can guarantee affordable train travel is by purchasing a ticket as soon as they go on sale 12 weeks in advance.

That cannot be done when the broadcasters do not announce which games they are moving until a month beforehand.

When you are travelling to Manchester or Liverpool and three quarters of the home support are also on the train out of London, seats are snapped up in an instant and prices spiral.

If football wants to get serious about reducing its carbon footprint and becoming sustainable, it is quite clearly not fans tucking into a chicken and gammon pie or driving to Leicester because there is no other way to get home following an 8pm Monday kick off who should be bearing the brunt.

The Premier League sign broadcast deals with television companies who then make public transport impractical.

Clubs hire private jets to fly to matches in England. Clubs arrange friendlies on the other side of the globe.

Forget Primark, football clubs are the definition of fast fashion, bringing out kits that are worn less than 15 times - as was the case with Brighton's yellow away shirt last season. The Albion did not win a game in it either, just to rub salt into the wounds to those who purchased.

For football to instruct fans what they should be doing to save the planet takes hypocrisy to the extreme. In fact, the only example more astounding I could think of is if Brighton City Council's Green Party leader also flew to COP26. Wait a minute...