Premier League club chief ‘sorry’ as football hit by worker shortages
The chief of Brighton and Hove Albion Paul Barber apologised to fans following Saturday’s home defeat by Everton to say sorry for the lack of catering staff and stewards.
Football has become the latest part of the economy to feel the effect of worker and supply shortages.
Following the match, fans complained online and Mr Barber admitted that for now supporters “may not have as wide a choice of food and drink” as they would like.
Earlier this month, Middlesbrough warned fans that “due to supplier shortages and issues within the logistics sector” it was experiencing problems sourcing beer and some food items, ahead of a match against QPR.
Crawley Town told supporters before its last game that self-isolation and general lack of staff availability meant that queues and delays were likely.
Football matches were back with full attendances after 18 months during which they have been closed or subject to strict spectator limits as a result of the pandemic.
Football’s current crisis is being felt across the economy, with supply chain and worker shortages in food outlets and some supermarkets.
There is also a lack of lorry drivers – linked to both Brexit and the pandemic – is being given as a key reason for supply chain description, while food processing sectors are also complaining of a lack of workers who have returned home to Europe.
Figures from last month showed vacancies across the economy topped one million for the first time.
In his email to Brighton fans, Mr Barber said: “Our service to you was not at the level you’ve come to expect or we strive to achieve, and we can only apologise.
“The ongoing pandemic is continuing to have a significant effect on our matchday staffing levels – and this is, in turn, impacting on us in a range of different areas.”
He said catering staff numbers provided by outsourcer Sodexo were “currently over 40% lower than we would like” and that “filling the gaps is proving to be very difficult indeed”.
“We are also operating with lower stewarding levels than we would prefer, which is making our COVID pass and ID checking operation even more challenging,” Mr Barber added.
The club believes the issue is short term, Mr Barber said, and that the return of students and fewer competing hospitality events in the autumn “should help moving forward”.
“In the meantime, you may not have as wide a choice of food and drink as you may like, and queues may be longer, but we would ask for your patience, and also support for our staff,” he said.
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