Premier League – After the sand yachting controversy: Is there a footballer on the plane?


What strange times we live in. At a time when the whole world must re-learn frugality, when the combined impact of global warming, the war in Ukraine and the panicked rise in the price of hydrocarbons forces us – almost – all to reassess the achievements of our lifestyles , there is an activity which, paradoxically, is doing better than ever: the rental of private jets.

The carbon footprint of a passenger on a private jet is however colossal, unrelated to that of a passenger on a regular flight: 2 tonnes of CO2 per person and per flight for the first on average, compared to 0.04 tonnes for the second, according to Our World In Data. The figures are sufficiently shocking that it is not only the national secretary of Europe ecology Les Verts Julien Bayou who asks that its use be prohibited.

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The British Labor Party could include such a measure in its government program, for example, and public pressure on those celebrities who take their jets like we take the tube – hello, Taylor Swift! Hello, Leonardo di Caprio! – is such that the culprits, among which the Premier League clubs are not the last, often find themselves forced to make amends.

Timo Werner (Chelsea)

Credit: Getty Images

A growing demand…

But all this does not prevent the demand from exceeding, and by far, the supply on the private jet market. The reason for this is that, in a world disrupted by COVID, many large companies have taken to chartering their own charters when their decision makers absolutely have to travel. The chaos in airports, between delays, cancellations of scheduled flights and delays of several hours at security checks, is such that renting a jet has become an option that makes economic sense.

At the same time, the pandemic has been fatal to several private charter companies, including the British airline Jota Aviation, which specializes in transporting sports clubs, which went bankrupt in April this year, precipitating a significant reduction in the supply of jets. in a market where demand has never been greater – and particularly for planes capable of accommodating fifty to sixty passengers, the capacity ordinarily required by Premier League clubs.

… and an offer that is sometimes lacking

This is how Chelsea had to resolve to rent three fourteen-seater jets when the Blues went to play in Leeds on August 21st. It was enough to transport Thiago Silva and his teammates, but not the technical staff of Thomas Tuchel, who had to travel from the Cobham training center to Elland Road – 336 kilometers – by coach. The German manager partly blamed the poor performance of his players (who lost 0-3 that day) on the transport problems their club had encountered.

« Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong« , he said after this defeat, « and from the day before, when we [Tuchel et ses assistants] we had to travel by bus« . The previous weekend, it was Leeds who had been forced to split their team into three contingents for their trip to Southampton, as no aircraft of sufficient size were available that day. The same club resorted to the same arrangement the following Saturday when he had to send his team to Brighton.

Thomas Tuchel on the Chelsea bench

Credit: Getty Images

The shortage of jets means that English clubs sometimes have to make unusual arrangements. So it was that early last month, as David Ornstein of The Athletic recounted, it was the same aircraft that flew Brighton from Manchester to London Gatwick Airport, hopped over from Gatwick to London-Stansted to take on Manchester City, who had just finished their match against West Ham. A lucky plane, since its two batches of passengers returned home with an away victory.

You would think that these availability issues, coupled with a tripling of costs due to soaring fuel prices, would make Premier League clubs think twice before chartering a private jet, not to mention the environmental impact of their choice of mode of transport and the criticisms to which they are subject. This does not appear to be the case.

Some luxury habits (more or less well disguised as the famous ‘fringe benefits’) are too entrenched for that, to the point that, according to an aviation expert contacted by Bloomberg, some clubs don’t even want to hear about planes. propellers, these not being chic and modern enough for their needs.

A sad record for Manchester United

After all, Manchester United did find a way to charter a private jet to ferry their squad from Manchester to Leicester in October 2021, a 116 kilometer journey that proved so short the players spent only ten minutes in their seats.

. This Manchester-Leicester quick return trip produced 6.6 tonnes of CO2, compared to the 288 kilos that the same journey by coach would have produced. Twenty-three times less.

Manchester United team

Credit: Getty ImagesA few months earlier, Manchester United had however signed a partnership agreement with Renewable Energy Group Inc, a leader in the field of biodiesel and renewable energy sources, with the aim of « raise awareness of how humans can contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future for our planet

« , according to the club’s press release.

Good luck trying to find the word ‘irony’ in the Premier League dictionary.

MU thus beat an unofficial record previously held since 2015 by Tottenham (twenty minutes to get from London to Bournemouth), then by Arsenal (fifteen from London to Norwich). Both trips take less than two hours by train.

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