Football and the climate crisis: does the game really want to tackle it?
About three years ago, in the thick of a League Two promotion campaign, Michael Doughty began to notice something. An unusually wet winter had flooded Swindon Town’s training pitches, forcing them to trek up and down the country in search of a usable facility. The postponements were piling up. “It would be unseasonably warm, then super-cold, which made performance more difficult,” the midfielder remembers. “The effect was really tangible. And I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a discussion.”
For Doughty it was a realisation that would set off an unusual chain of events. After retiring from the game he set up a sustainable sportswear brand, but soon realised that he wanted to work in football again. And so, aged just 30, he has returned to his old club, not as a coach or a scout or an ambassador, but as their chief sustainability officer: the first former player to take such a position at an English league club.
There are big plans. Swindon are about to secure the purchase of the County Ground from the local council for the first time, allowing them to redevelop…