I am not usually one to go out of his way to defend he Premier League or it’s member clubs.
Too often over the years they have done very little to help the likes of me – a match going fan.
In fact, at times it feels like fans like me are not wanted by the Premier League. By Arsenal.
But on this occasion I will come to the defence of them.
It has been well publicised that the Premier League turned down a request from homeless charity Shelter for home clubs to raise the awareness of rough sleeping.
The league have been criticised by all corners of the media and across social media sites. But they are on the right to turn them down.
Football clubs and the Premier League will have countless requests from charities for support. They can not support them all.
What Shelter have done is wrong.
They have used the rejection to publicly blackmail the league into changing their stance.
Rather than accept the decision and move on; they went to the media.
This was done to shame the Premier League into a u-turn whilst also giving lots of free publicity to Shelter.
That does not sit well with me.
Charities should not be using the rejection of companies and organisations to boost their profile. It is uncharitable.
Take the MacMillan Nurses a few years ago.
They publicly wrote to every Premier League side asking their players to donate a days wages to their charity. Some accepted; others rejected.
MacMillan Nurses then published the list of clubs that rejected their request in the hope the media would pick up on their story. They did and the public flogging began.
Arsenal were one of those clubs to reject the request and became the headline name the papers went with.
What it ignored is that Arsenal had its own charity – the Arsenal Foundation – which distributed funds across many charities across Islington. One of the fundraising activities they already undertook was every player donating a days wages to the Arsenal Foundation.
From this blog we make a small amount of money. We donate that money to charities.
We often get requests from people asking for donations – whether it is or a kids football team or to support someone’s JustGiving charitable drive. We often have to reject them as we simply can not afford to donate to every request.
Whilst football clubs are much richer, they will get countless more requests than our little blog. And whereas we are getting asked to donate £50, they will be getting asked to donate £500,000.
Like us, at some point they have to say no. They can not donate to every charitable request.
It is why Arsenal – and many other clubs – have set up their own foundation. This allows them to point any request towards their own foundation.
If you want a donation, apply to the foundation not the club.
The Premier League are also no different.
They will get daily requests to donate money or publicly support a cause. They can not agree to donate or promote them all.
We already have the support of Black Lives Matter and Mind. As well as Kick It Out and Rainbow Laces. They already do a lot to raise awareness in multiple causes.
But the more causes they agree to raise awareness in, the more diluted that support comes.
It could get to a point where every weekend the Premier League are showing their support for a different cause. And then some will still get rejected.
So you will still have a charity or organisation going to the press saying “our request for support from the Premier League has been rejected”. And it will become a headline story.
A lot of football clubs already run a “Big Sleep Out” event for homelessness.
This is where they encourage people to spend a night sleeping in their stadium to raise funds for homelessness. In 2019 Chelsea raised £25,000 split between the two local homeless charities. Wolves raised £30k in 2019; Bristol Rovers £7k in 2020 and West Ham over £100k for Shelter just last year.
Clubs clearly already do so much to raise awareness and funds for homeless charities.
The sad fact is their rejection of Shelter’s proposal will get more publicity than the positive acts each club does in the area.
What Shelter have done with their public shaming leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Instead of praising clubs for the work they do, they could end up alienating them and losing their future support.
Shelter might have just shot themselves in the foot for future funding from clubs.
Over the pandemic every club stepped up and donated a huge amount of food, resources and time to help those who needed it. They also would have rejected a lot of requests to help.
If every rejection was made public, it would have been a daily story.
At some point the Premier League, football clubs and businesses have to say no. They can not support every charity, every cause.
On a final thought, those media companies that have criticised the Premier League in recent days; do they support every charity that requests it?
We should be focusing on the charities, causes and work the Premier League and her members already do. Not criticising them for rejecting one charities public advances.
Move on. Focus on the football.