By Jonathan Davies

Chelsea Football Club has become the professional English football club to be accredited as a Living Wage employer.

From January 2015, Chelsea will pay all of its directly employed staff at least the Living Wage, which is £9.15 an hour for London and £7.85 outside of the capital., up from the National Minimum Wage (£6.50).

The club also announced that it will ensure that all staff employed by external contractors will be paid the Living Wage by 2017, starting the process from January 2015.

Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck said: "As a responsible employer we are proud of this significant achievement for the club.

"We believe the move to the Living Wage underlines our commitment to ensuring that all our employees receive a fair rate of pay for their hard work and dedication. Quite simply it is the right thing to do."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Our great football teams are household names around the world, their every action is scrutinised in microscopic detail and by becoming the first professional sports team to commit to pay the London Living Wage Chelsea are setting the right example.

"They realise their team is more than just the 11 men out on the pitch, and that by putting more pounds in the pockets of their staff they are signing up to a win-win scenario that rewards a hard day's work with a fair day's pay for everyone."

Living Wage Foundation Director, Rhys Moore added: "The accreditation of Chelsea as a Living Wage employer marks a significant milestone in the campaign. We are delighted that more than 1,000 organisations are now accredited Living Wage employers, and we see Chelsea’s leadership on this issue as a mark of a responsible business."

League 2 side Luton Town claim to be the first to start paying the Living Wage to all of its staff, but Chelsea is the first club to become accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

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