Earlier this month, Nottingham Forest players and staff took a 20 minute flight to and from their FA Cup tie against Blackpool, a distance of about 135 miles or two hours and 45 minutes by road.
Following the revelations, Forest Manager Steve Cooper was forced to defend the decision in the media, stating that their actions were "pretty normal" and that Forest were "no outliers here".
In Cooper's defence, a) he isn't wrong; there have been various instances of high-level English football teams flying ludicrously short distances in recent years, with Manchester United flying to Leicester in 2021 and Arsenal's 14-minute flight to Norwich immediately springing to mind, and b) at a club in the Premier League (or most of the professional leagues in England), this decision is made way over his head, but as the public face of the club, he must go and defend it to the nation's journalists.
Despite this, there is no real spin that can be done to this story that makes it look anything other than pretty poor. As per the Department for Business, Energy, and Industry Strategy (BEIS), emissions per kilometre traveled on flights are known to be significantly worse than any other form of transport, with short-haul flights the worst emitters.
For now, we can only look at possible solutions: there have been calls for the government to ban domestic flights, which would be a big step in the right direction; however, you do fear there will always be loopholes for this sort of thing, rendering it fairly useless. Likewise, the story does highlight some of the issues with the country's rail infrastructure, with the journey actually taking just as long via trains as it would by road and the increasing prevalent strikes on the rail system necessitating clubs to make difficult decisions out of reliability concerns.
Whether you are a football fan or not, the sport is arguably the one thing that has the greatest impact on the culture of the country, and while the road to net-zero will require a collective effort from all in society, we need those at the top in influential positions to be setting examples to everyone else.