Revealed - The 20 most charitable football clubs in England
Christmas is a time for giving, and these teams in particular deserve to be celebrated for their generosity over the past year.
Let’s face it, there are a lot of reasons to be cynical as a football fan.
Dodgy owners, scandalous ticket prices, talk of a European super league: the growing commercialism and money surrounding the game can often leave something of a cloud over the sport that we love. But underneath the often ugly veneer lies a strong, resilient foundation. Football at its core is still a sport which has the power to lift up communities, a sport which can bring people together from all walks of life. And at all levels of the footballing pyramid there are remarkable stories of generosity which prove that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
In an effort to celebrate this uplifting side of the game, we’ve taken a look at charity spend for each club across England’s top 4 divisions. The results were highly encouraging, with a number of clubs channeling multiple millions through their respective foundations, and even some teams in both the Championship and League 1 outspending sides above them in the Premier League.
So give it up for the good work that every club does, and this bunch of teams in particular.
Where is the data coming from?
All the data listed below was gathered from The Charity Commission website. We looked at the most recent official data for each football club’s primary charity, which in the majority of cases ran from April 2018 to April 2019. Secondary or affiliate charities were not taken into account for this report.
Every club who plays in the top 4 tiers of English football was considered for the list.
The most charitable football clubs in England
20 - Crystal Palace (Palace for Life Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £1,932,483
Kicking off the list are the Palace for Life Foundation, a charity who work with over 13,000 young people in and around South London. Amongst their recent initiatives is ‘Breaking the Cycle’, a programme which lifts up vulnerable young people in the local area by providing training and support in finding employment.
There’s also Palace for Life Foundation’s Down Syndrome Eagles team, a group who’ve been active for five years. Just a few weeks ago Roy Hodgson commented on the success of the side whilst leading a training session:
“Our Foundation does a wonderful job, and you can see how much the children enjoy it and how good the coaches are with the young players, so it’s 100% positive.” - Roy Hodgson, Manager, Crystal Palace
19 - Fulham (Fulham Football Club Foundation) - Championship - Total Spend: £1,979,677
Despite their relegation last season, Fulham find themselves inside the top 20 clubs in England for charity spend. Back in October kit sponsor Dafabet gave up their regular spot on the Fulham home shirt in favour of the foundation for a televised game against Charlton Athletic, highlighting the emphasis the club place on their charity initiatives.
Alongside Dafabet, kit partner adidas are also closely associated with the foundation, with the successful adidas Fulham 10k 2019 event just one example of the good work that’s going on.
18 - Portsmouth (Pompey in the Community) - League 1 - Total Spend: £2,147,570
The first of two clubs from League 1 to appear on the list, Portsmouth and their charity arm Pompey in the Community outspent a host of clubs in the higher divisions this past year.
Amongst the impressive array of projects that Pompey ITC conduct there is a particular focus on educational initiatives, and one scheme in particular highlights the creativity of many of these courses. “Nelson Investigates” is an innovative series of sessions involving club mascot Nelson, as he explores issues relating to water usage and flooding with local children in an interesting way. It’s not a topic you’d expect to see covered by a football club, but to their credit Portsmouth are tackling issues like these head-on.
17 - Burnley (Clarets in the Community Limited) - Premier League - Total Spend: £2,234,339
Burnley are next up, and the Clarets have been gaining a lot of coverage for their recent project “The Leisure Box”, nominated for awards at both the Northwest Football Awards 2019 and TheStadiumBusiness Design and Development Awards 2019.
“The Leisure Box” is a community leisure centre built on the site of a former cotton mill, and a host of state of the art facilities can be enjoyed at the centre including climbing walls, 3G and 4G pitches, a sprung dance floor and two full size cricket lanes. A number of free activities are run at the centre too, for the benefit of the local community.
16 - Derby (Derby County Community Trust) - Championship - Total Spend: £2,382,288
Punching above their weight in 16th are Derby, one of just 4 clubs from the Championship in this countdown. The club’s efforts extend across the world, most notably in Kenya where they partner with a number of schools as part of their “Rams in Kenya” initiative.
The club regularly sends out groups of fans to volunteer in a number of practical ways, including maintenance tasks, the running of sports days and the rebuilding of classrooms.
15 - Sunderland (Foundation of Light) - League 1 - Total Spend: £2,497,977
Give it up for Sunderland, who are the highest ranked League 1 team on the list finishing above all but 2 Championship clubs and 8 sides in the Premier League.
The Foundation of Light recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and just a few weeks ago the club won ‘Best Football Community Scheme – Non Premier League’ at the Football Business Awards, in part thanks to the impressive “Beacon of Light” community hub which offers sport, education, employability and health programmes for all ages.
14 - Liverpool (Liverpool FC Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £2,548,790
Premier League leaders Liverpool also find themselves at a respectable 14th in the list of the greatest givers, and perhaps their most famous charity initiative of recent years has been the popular, annual ‘Legends’ exhibition matches.
Next year sees a team of Barcelona Legends travel to Anfield to play their red counterparts, in what is set to be one of the highest profile charity matches of the year. The Liverpool FC Foundation also operates a highly successful ‘Lotto’ scheme, which has raised more than £50,000 for charity last season.
13 - Southampton (Saints Foundation (SFC)) - Premier League - Total Spend: £2,562,686
In 13th are Southampton, and their charitable arm Saints Foundation. One of the foundation’s standout programmes, “Generation Gains” helps lonely and isolated people over the age of 65. Southampton step out into the local community providing core stability exercise programmes, reminiscence groups and activity programmes that promote social and physical wellbeing.
12 - Watford (Watford FC’s Community Sports & Education Trust) - Premier League - Total Spend: £2,689,232
Watford’s Community Sports and Education Trust run a number of impressive programmes, including the “Mental Health Project” which sees the club working with school to normalise conversations around mental health, through classroom and practical based sessions designed to engage students.
There are also free 12-week mental health focused courses which combine physical activity sessions and facilitated discussion in the form of a ‘conversation cafe’.
11 - West Brom (The Albion Foundation) - Championship - Total Spend: £2,712,207
Just outside the top 10 are West Brom, who can claim to be the 2nd highest spending club in the Championship by charity spend.
In the lead up to Christmas, fans are able to pick up a famous ‘No Score Draws’ (previously named ‘Panini Cheapskates’) print in support of the foundation, a scheme which has already raised £3000 for the charity. A recent ‘Foundation Day’, which included the auctioning off of match worn shirts, also raised almost £19,000.
10 - Manchester City (Manchester City F.C. City in the Community Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £2,963,371
Manchester City break into the top half for charity spend, and their particularly strong work in the women’s game shows through a number of pioneering programmes. “The Women & Girls Football project” involves free football training, leadership and mentoring opportunities, in a push to increase the levels of physical activity amongst women and girls and to develop leadership skills through volunteering opportunities.
City also boast an incredibly wide reach across the globe, with various charity initiatives across all major continents.
9 - Brighton (Albion in the Community) - Premier League - Total Spend: £3,069,831
Amongst a diverse range of projects, Brighton’s “Speak Up Against Cancer” programme shines as one of the most important of its kind across the country. The team delivered potentially life-saving information to more than 17,000 people in the period of a year, and it’s the sort of initiative which highlights the good football clubs can do outside of the expected remit.
8 - West Ham (West Ham United Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £3,212,279
West Ham sit in a commendable 8th in the table of top clubs by charity spend, and the East London club take an active part in their community with a range of programmes including the Lycamobile Cup. The youth football tournament, now in its seventh season, involves schools from across London, helping to mend the often shattered relationships between boroughs. What’s more, you’ll often find a number of current first team players on the sidelines during the annual tournament.
Sponsors often have something of a bad reputation, but Lycamobile and West Ham are the perfect example of a team and company giving something back to their community.
7 - Tottenham (Tottenham Hotspur Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £3,446,250
Spurs have a reputation for being stingy when it comes to the transfer market, but their figures for charity spend tell a completely different story. They are one of the most generous teams across England, and one of the highlights of their foundation work has been the number of jobs the club have helped to provide for local people.
The new stadium alone delivered 3,500 new jobs, whilst almost 2,800 jobs across the retail, education, construction, hospitality, IT and security industries were arranged through the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. Supporting skills programmes, apprenticeships and one-to-one employment support further emphasis Spurs’ commitment to helping their community in one of the most significant ways.
6 - Newcastle (Newcastle United Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £3,474,544
Throughout this list, it’s the relatively small, personal stories of joy and generosity that stand out the most, and the Newcastle United Foundation’s work with the Great North Children’s Hospital paediatric oncology ward is full of such stories.
A recent event, which saw children building LEGO models of St James’ Park with the help of a professional LEGO artist, shows just how much clubs are willing to identify and put on events that will largely run away from the spotlight and the cameras. Project Coordinator Gareth Williams summed up the project:
“The children at the hospital are always excited to start building something new and...LEGO has never created a St. James’ Park set... We couldn’t be happier with the result and can’t wait for more patients to have a go at building it.” - Gareth Williams, Project Coordinator, Newcastle United Foundation
5 - Everton (Everton in the Community) - Premier League - Total Spend: £3,538,936
Everton have a reputation for being a community focused club, and that is backed up in a big way by their charity spending. Their charity arm “Everton in the Community” is one of the most active and prolific in the country, with a number of major projects over the years.
The recent ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ campaign, which sought to help young people at risk in the local area, was particularly successful with £244,000 raised in support. The Everton youth teams were involved throughout, and U23 manager David Unsworth spoke about the importance of the campaign:
“I've had a lot of amazing moments in football over a long period of time but this is right up there because it is going to make such a difference forever, for dozens and dozens of young adults who are in desperate need of our help.” - David Unsworth, U23 Manager, Everton
4 - Manchester United (Manchester United Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £4,309,963
Coming in at 4th are Manchester United, a club who are helping to lead the way not simply with their charity spending but also with the platform they have provided for their foundation. The ‘Manchester United Foundation’ have their own dedicated social channels, including a successful Instagram page with over 1M followers, alongside other thriving accounts.
These channels are far more than just vanity projects or just a result of United’ global profile however, as they back up their digital presence with a range of quality programmes including “Move with Manchester United” and “Eat Well with Manchester United”, two schemes which see the foundation and first team players engaging with primary school kids on important issues surrounding health and exercise.
3 - Norwich (Norwich City Community Sports Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £4,523,465
Norwich City are quite simply a beacon of light when it comes to charity work in England. The Canaries may have only just been promoted from the Championship, but they are sitting pretty as the 3rd best club in England for charity spend.
Their campaigns are wide and varied, but much of their work is channelled through “The Nest”, a community hub currently undergoing phase 2 of its construction. The huge 22-acre site just outside the city is the base for programmes like “Street Life Soccer”, which works with vulnerable adults by providing routines around social, health and employment, and the “Disability Player Development Centre”, which gives opportunities for adults with disabilities to represent the club against other teams.
2 - Charlton (South of England Foundation) - Championship - Premier League - Total Spend: £5,586,000
Take a bow, Charlton Athletic. The club’s charity Charlton Athletic Community Trust (registered as South of England Foundation) spent a whopping £5.58m in 2018/19, outspending the rest of the Championship and almost all of the Premier League. Though it’s a number that’s hard to put into perspective, a recent study into the impact of the foundation’s programmes has set the value of the work at over £31m in terms of its impact to the local community.
There are a large selection of standout programmes across the board which deserve a mention, including the “Up & At ‘Em” project which won the “Older Adult Functional Mental Health Services ” award at the “Positive Practice Older People’s Mental Health & Dementia Awards”. The award considered initiatives beyond simply the world of football, highlighting just how significant an impact the club are having.
1 - Chelsea (Chelsea FC Foundation) - Premier League - Total Spend: £7,558,005
Chelsea spend more money through their charity than any other club in England.
It’s impossible to overstate just how impressive the numbers are. The Chelsea FC Foundation spent over £7.5m, almost £2m, more than any other club and significantly higher than the rest of the Premier League. From their high profile partnerships with organisations like children’s charity Plan International right down to the fact the foundation organised for 70 families of seriously ill children to meet with players, The Blues quite simply led the way with their charity work in 2018/19, showcasing the force of good that football teams can be.