Every year, English Premier League clubs embark on pre-season tours to generate interest, excitement and revenue for their brands in new markets, and to get their players fit and ready for the new season. Sometimes, English clubs even play other English clubs while they’re out there.

This season, a number of stories have shed light on how football teams travel during the regular season. Nottingham Forest caused some controversy by taking a 20-minute flight to Blackpool for an FA cup tie back in January. Over in Spain, Real Madrid were called out for taking a 15-minute flight to Vallodolid. And just this week, the BBC released the findings of their own study of 100 EPL matches between 19th January and 19th March 2023, 81 of which involved teams flying.

It’s right that this is getting attention. In the same week that the BBC released their findings, the IPCC’s latest instalment of its sixth assessment report was released, suggesting that we ‘act now, or it’s too late’.

infogr8, in collaboration with independent sustainability consultant Alan Spray, have crunched the numbers on Premier League pre-season friendlies, and these overseas fixtures make travel emissions from in-season matches seem like a drop in the ocean.

One particular match saw Liverpool take on Manchester United in Bangkok. The travel emissions from the squad, coaching team and support staff for both teams are estimated to be around 1,400 tonnes of CO2. Compare that to when Liverpool travel down the M62 to Old Trafford, where the travel emissions come in at just 0.2 tonnes, or 200 kg of CO2. That’s 7,000 times as much CO2, just so they can play each other in Thailand.

Where is the sense in that? And how can this possibly match up with their respective climate commitments, Liverpool’s ‘The Red Way’ and Man Utd’s ‘Better United’? There are no two ways about it: these pre-season friendlies are profoundly unfriendly to our planet.


We split our analysis into two main sections:

  • Overseas Premier League pre-season friendlies
  • Domestic regular-season Premier League matches

For the overseas matches, we plotted out the team’s journeys based on their match schedules and calculated their estimated emissions based on the distances travelled and the estimated method of travel.

For domestic season matches, we calculated travel emissions for away teams based on travel from their home stadium to the stadium they’re scheduled to play at. For any journey less than 150 km, we made the assumption that they travelled by coach. For any over 150 km, we assumed that they would fly. This is how we created the estimated emissions values for an entire domestic season, without the 2022-23 campaign actually being complete just yet.

Developed by
Data analysis by Dr. Alan Spray