Cardiff Citizens Hit the Headlines with Living Wage Action at Cardiff City Football Club
by Jonathan Cox
Photo: Ali Abdi and Richard Weaver (now Community Organisers with Citizens Cymru Wales) were both involved as leaders in the original Cardiff City FC Living Wage campaign in 2015.
We were all delighted to see Cardiff City get promoted to the Premier League. We all know that football players earn high wages, and that winning promotion is a huge deal for the Club (who could benefit to the tune of £170 million), but what about the stewards and hospitality staff who make each matchday run smoothly - would they benefit from the Club's financial success? There are growing number of accredited Living Wage football clubs in the Premier League - Cardiff are joining the footballing elite, but would they join an elite group of clubs (including Everton, West Ham and Chelsea) committed to the Living Wage? A team from Cardiff Citizens weren't prepared to leave it to chance...
Good things come to those who wait! One of the first major campaigns we mounted after the launch of Cardiff Citizens in October 2014 was to get Cardiff City Football Club to pay the Living Wage. Young fans painstakingly constructed a giant Bluebird out of papier mache and bore it aloft through the streets of Grangetown, before arriving at Cardiff City Stadium to hand in a letter to the Chief Executive, Ken Choo, requesting a meeting to discuss the Living Wage.
In due course a Cardiff Citizens team, joined by Jo Stevens MP, met with Mr Choo. The Club were open to paying the Living Wage, but having just been relegated from the Premier League, and facing a number of other internal difficulties, they asked us to come back and raise the issue again when they got promoted.
In the meantime it has been great to see the Cardiff City FC Foundation accredit as a Living Wage employer, and we have kept the issue on the agenda.
When Cardiff City won promotion back to the Premier League earlier this month, Cardiff Citizens mobilised into action. We delivered a letter to Mr Choo, congratulating him on promotion, reminding him of his promise, and asking to meet with him again to discuss implementation of the Real Living Wage. The action was picked up by a journalist at the Daily Telegraph:
Campaigners wearing football shirts with ‘£8.75 Living Wage’ on the back will target Cardiff City FC on Wednesday by delivering a giant congratulations card to their chief executive, Ken Choo, following their promotion on the final day of the Championship season.
Ali Abdi, community organiser with Cardiff Citizens, said: “As a proud Cardiff City fan, I want to see my club go real living wage and set an ethical standard so that no-one working there is left hungry, struggling with bills or working two jobs to survive because they aren’t earning enough to live on.
“The Cardiff City Foundation has already become an accredited Living Wage Employer - now we want the whole club to follow suit. We can do so much better than the likes of some wealthy Premier League clubs that have lost touch with the needs of their communities.”
Michael Pugh, living wage community organiser for Citizens UK, said: “If Cardiff City moved to become a Living Wage Club, it would be the first sporting team and venue in Wales to do so.
“It would also move Cardiff one step closer to becoming the UK’s first Living Wage City. When Cardiff Citizens raised this issue with Ken Choo, Cardiff City’s CEO, in 2014, he was warm to the idea of becoming a Living Wage Club, and he promised to consider it again when they got promoted.”
Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff Central, added: “During the 2014-15 season, the club’s directors gave me and living wage campaigners a commitment that we’d become a Living Wage accredited club if we got back into the Premier League.
“Securing promotion has made our city very proud and fulfilling that commitment from the huge financial boost that premiership football is bringing to our club would be the icing on the cake.”
The reaction from Cardiff City was positive. They released a statement saying:
“Cardiff City Football Club would like to thank Cardiff Citizens for their congratulatory messages this week. We are actively reviewing our position on accrediting as a Living Wage employer and would encourage further conversation with Cardiff Citizens as part of this process.”
We are now waiting for a date to meet with the club and hope to have positive news to share in due course.
If you would like to support this or other Living Wage campaigns in Wales, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org