Today’s News & Notes column, GSB’s first of 2021, has a British feel:
North London’s Tottenham Hotspur earned the distinction as the greenest club in the English Premier League, finishing atop the 2020 “Sustainability Table,” a ranking system developed by Sports Positive Summit.
And Britain’s Jenson Button, a former champion Formula 1 racer, will drive in Extreme E, the new all-EV off-road series.
TOTTENHAM WINS GREENEST EPL TEAM HONORS
Tottenham Hotspur — GSB’s favorite club — sadly has not finished first in English football’s top flight since 1961 and have not won a trophy of any kind since 2008. That streak has a chance of ending this year since Spurs are alive in three knockout competitions (Europa League, FA Cup, and Carabao Cup) and still have a long shot chance at winning the English Premier League title.
Hopefully Tottenham’s first place finish in the 2020 EPL’s Sustainability Table, a ranking system developed by Sport Positive Summit that measures the sustainability of all 20 clubs, is a harbinger of things to come on the pitch.
Spurs claimed the all of the 21 points on offer in the Sustainability Table. Monday’s announcement that they have signed on to the United Nations’ Sports for Climate Action framework put them over the top, allowing them to edge out bitter North London rival Arsenal by one point. Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United also finished with 20 points.
“Looking to our future beyond the current pandemic, our message is that the climate needs to be at forefront of all our minds,” said Spurs chairman Daniel Levy to David Lockwood of BBC Sport. “We have seen people take greater pride in their environment during the lockdowns of the past year. When we return to normality, we cannot slip back into bad habits and lose sight of this.”
This is the second annual EPL Sustainability Table — the system was tweaked slightly after Year 1 — with each club having the chance to earn points in eight sustainability categories:
- Clean energy (2 points)
- Energy efficiency (2 points )
- Sustainable transport (2 points)
- Single-use plastic reduction or removal (2 points)
- Waste management (2 points)
- Water efficiency (2 points)
- Plant-based or low-carbon food options (3 points)
- Communications & engagement (3 points)
In addition, one bonus point was awarded to clubs for each of these three metrics:
- Actively engaging fans towards positive behavioral change that reduces environmental impact in their own lives
- Signing on to UN Sports for Climate Action Framework
- Reporting on percentage of fans taking various modes of transportation to games
According to table creator Claire Poole of Sport Positive Summit, sustainability performance improved across the league, despite the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The past year has been brutal on everyone, football clubs included, but when we look specifically at the work here, we can see that many clubs have continued with their commitments to the environment in spite of Covid-19 impacts,” shared Poole with BBC Sport’s Lockwood. “In fact, four clubs have signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework (Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Southampton), and two clubs have launched far-reaching and incredible strategies around sustainability – Liverpool’s The Red Way and Southampton’s The Halo Effect.”
GSB’s Take: Kudos to the EPL clubs, especially Liverpool and Southampton, and Sports Positive Summit for putting more teeth into this year’s rankings. And props to my Spurs for winning the Sustainability Table.
Hopefully, when the club wins a trophy this spring (it will happen!), Chairman Levy, or Manager Jose Mourinho or captain and star Harry Kane will mention how earning the Sustainability Table title spurred Spurs towards an on-pitch championship.
Also, good on BBC Sport for covering the Sustainability Table on its digital site. Will it mention Spurs sustainability strength, as well as the Liverpool and Southampton initiatives, on its EPL broadcasts?
Watch this space.
Oh yeah, two more things:
1. There should be a Sustainability Table (Green League?) trophy for EPL clubs to add to their trophy cases, and 2. Come On You Spurs (#COYS) vs. Liverpool on the pitch later today!
JENSON BUTTON, LONG TIME F-1 DRIVER, SHIFTS GEARS TO EXTREME E, NEW ALL E CIRCUIT
“JBXE has been a long time coming and I’m both delighted and proud to announce its formation and entry into the inaugural Extreme E championship,” Button told SportsProMedia’s Sam Carp. “In Extreme E they’ve created a product that will offer first class racing and entertainment to the fans, but also serves to highlight the impact of climate change. Whilst we will of course compete to win on track, as a collective we will also work to maximize awareness whilst racing in places that have been damaged or affected by climate change over the years.”
The 41-year-old is the third Formula One world champion to become a team owner in Extreme E, following the iconic Lewis Hamilton — a passionate climate warrior — and Finnish-German driver Nico Rosberg.
Extreme E was founded by CEO Alejandro Agag, who also founded the Formula E, the seven-year-old EV racing circuit. Its inaugural season, which kick offs in April, will visit five locations in five different environments, highlighting five different impacts of climate change:
- Wadi Rum, AlUla, Saudi Arabia, desertification, April 3-4
- Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal, sea level rise, plastic waste, May 29-30
- Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, melting ice sheet, August 28-29
- Santarem, Para, Brazil, deforestation, species loss, October 23-24
- Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, glacier, snow loss, December 11-12
Fox Sports will broadcast Extreme E races on FS1 in the USA and Canada. BBC Sport will air the series in the UK, while ESPN will do the same in Latin America.
GSB’s Take: Lewis Hamilton, the most famous and successful F-1 driver in the modern era, is no longer a unicorn among motor sports drivers in terms of the climate fight. That’s because Jenson Button has joined Hamilton as an Extreme-E “early adapter”.
GSB is a fan of Extreme E’s approach of using exotic locales and high tech EVs to spur a phase shift among auto racing fans as well as other drivers to take environmental and climate action.
Our bet is that motor sports fans and climate change fighters will find Extreme E to be compelling viewing. Can’t wait!
Photo at top: Tottenham Hotspur players celebrate winning their last on-pitch trophy, the 2008 Carling (now Carabao) Cup. The North London club finished atop the 2020 EPL Sustainability Table (Photo credit: fourfourtwo.com)