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Manchester United faces call to address 'grotesque' low pay of workers

Gareth Copley / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Citizens are calling out the contrast in salaries at Manchester United.

On Thursday, community leaders from Greater Manchester Citizens, a local chapter of Citizens UK, called foul play on low pay of employees at Old Trafford, especially compared with players' salaries. The January transfer window closed with record outlays and sky-high player salaries as clubs spent a net of £148 million, and while it was open, United retained top spot in the Deloitte Football Money League, generating total revenue of €676 million.

Greater Manchester Citizens said, "life on low pay for sub-contracted workers at the Theatre of Dreams is a very real nightmare," and called for United to become an accredited Living Wage employer.

The call came 10 days after United signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal. According to the Guardian's Jamie Jackson, the Chilean attacker's salary is closer to a basic £300,000 per week than the reported £500,000 per week. Taking the average of £400,000, Greater Manchester Citizens declared (based on a 37.5-hour working week and a National Living Wage hourly rate of £7.50):

  • Sanchez's weekly salary is the equivalent of 23 workers paid a Living Wage for a year.
  • A minimum-wage worker needs to work 27 years to match Sanchez's weekly salary.
  • It will take just 82 minutes into Sanchez's debut at Old Trafford for him to earn the annual salary of a low-paid stadium worker (£14,625).
  • Sanchez, the highest-paid footballer in Premier League history, reveals "a grotesque tale of two halves with many low-paid staff struggle to make ends meet, with some on less than £7 per hour".
  • The reported transfer fee pocketed by Fernando Felicevich, Sanchez's super agent, would allow 6,100 low-paid workers in the community to take home an extra £2,437.50 per year if uplifted to the real Living Wage rate.

(Courtesy: Citizens UK)

"As the 2018 winter transfer window closes on record-breaking player pay, low-paid staff at the Theatre of Dreams are facing a real nightmare to meet he real cost of living, as the club refuses to pay a voluntary Living Wage rate (£8.75 per hour)," Greater Manchester Citizens stated.

The organisation is planning action outside Old Trafford as part of a national campaign to tackle low pay at football clubs. The campaign is kicking off with a letter addressed to Ed Woodward, United's chief executive officer, that is signed by community leaders and supporters. It will be handed in to the Red Devils' headquarters on Thursday morning and received backing from Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, as well as churches, trade union branches, a housing association, student bodies, and fan clubs.

"We're asking you to do the right thing on behalf of the lower paid staff at Manchester United football club, who have told us of their struggles on low pay in a time when football players are receiving a king's ransom in wages every week," the letter reads.

Citizens UK "organises communities to act together for power, social justice, and the common good."

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