Sadiq Khan ‘embarrassed’ that likes of West Ham United ‘not paying Living Wage’

West Ham fans descend on the Olympic Stadium in Stratford for their first home game

West Ham fans descend on the Olympic Stadium in Stratford for their first home game - Credit: Archant

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said it “embarrasses” him as a football fan that most Premier League clubs, including West Ham United, are not accredited London Living Wage employers.

Sadiq Khan Picture: PA/Lauren Hurley

Sadiq Khan Picture: PA/Lauren Hurley - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The City Hall chief made the comments yesterday during Mayor’s Question Time, highlighting the huge disparity in pay between footballers earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a week and other staff not being paid the Living Wage of £9.75 an hour.

But in a statement to the Recorder, West Ham United said the club is “immensely proud” to have been paying permanent staff the “equivalent” to the London Living Wage since July 2015.

A club spokesman said: “West Ham United rent London Stadium for 25 days a year and have no jurisdiction over the staff employed in the operation of the club on a matchday, which means that unfortunately we cannot be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.”

However, the woman who raised the topic – Labour AM Jennette Arnold – said “essential workers” who are sub–contracted and not paid the Living Wage must also be compensated fairly.

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“If you didn’t have a clean stadium, you couldn’t have a football club,” she said, adding that cleaning staff are typically not employed on permanent contracts.

“You couldn’t bring on these super-duper footballers without these workers.”

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Mayor Khan agreed, explaining that though he knew City Hall staff were being paid the Living Wage, he recently discovered sub-contractors were not – and “put that right”.

He added: “People selling programmes on matchday – or pies, or burgers – who are independent contractors are not getting paid the London Living Wage.

“I’m happy to write to [London football clubs] to make this point.”

Jennette Arnold AM said earlier in the discussion that if Derby, Everton and Hammers rivals Chelsea can become accredited members, then West Ham and other Premier League clubs can follow suit.

“We need to get these Premier League football clubs to do the right thing,” she said.

Mayor Khan said paying the Living Wage is not just the “right and moral” thing to do, but also good for businesses.

“Paying the Living Wage can help reduce absenteeism and sick leave,” he said. “It can make it easier to recruit and maintain the best staff.”

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