Premier League football club Reading FC have been criticised for advertising a year-long full-time internship that pays neither salary nor expenses.
The club, which was recently taken over by a millionaire Russian businessman, advertised for a “performance analyst” intern on the UK Sport website.
The advertisement says the job “will require the successful applicant to work unsociable hours”, including attending every home and some away games. But it adds: “This role is unpaid and includes no travel expenses.”
The lack of payment for interns is in stark contrast to what Reading is willing to pay its players, some of whom earn up to £1.5m a year.
According to the job description the intern is expected to have or be in the process of gaining a postgraduate degree in performance analysis or sports science – meaning those applying for such a job will likely already be saddled with at least one degree’s worth of student debt.
The candidate needs to have previous experience of working in professional or semi-professional football, be proficient in the use of a number of software suites used by performance analysts, video-editing skills and access to their own car.
Reading is not a club that can plead poverty. Last year it was bought by the wealthy Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich, who is the son of the Russian billionaire Boris Zingarevich.
Since the takeover the club has been flush with cash and has made a string of high-profile purchases. Players such as Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak are thought to make between £20,000 and £30,000 a week.
However, the club’s new purchasing power has not translated into success on the pitch. After a stunning season last year which resulted in promotion, Reading currently sit at the bottom of the table, almost certainly facing relegation.
Ben Lyons, from Intern Aware, which campaigns against unpaid internships, said it would report Reading to HMRC because “where interns are doing real work they are legally entitled to the minimum wage”.
He said: “Internships often lead to long-term employment and by refusing to pay its interns Reading will be closing the door on many bright and hard-working young people.
“Unfortunately, this case is only the tip of the iceberg as there are as many as 100,000 unpaid internships pricing young people out of work.”
Intern Aware has helped unpaid interns win a number of settlements after taking employers to tribunals. In a recent survey, 84% of people aged over 35 said that a young person in their family could not afford to do an unpaid internship in London.
A Reading FC spokesman said: “Internships are an important part of career progression and experience building for any individual starting out on the path to their dream job.
“Football is happy to offer such a great opportunity, we receive a huge number of requests and it is beneficial to all parties to have formalised the process. In addition, a number of interns have gone on to become full-time members of staff and remain integral to our club.”