Scotland’s oldest football club, Queen’s Park, have moved quickly to confirm that they remain true to their amateur philosophy after reports emerged that they have signed players on professional contracts.
The Hampden club, which turns 150 years old next July, admit they have players on professional contracts, who are paid £1 per week, but the contracts are used only as a pragmatic solution to registration issues that first arose more than 20 years ago.
Several clubs have been highlighted as paying less than the National Minimum Wage to players and Queen’s were used as an example. That led to claims that any payment to players meant that the club were no longer amateur. However, club president Alan Hutchison has confirmed that the Spiders remain true to their motto of – ludere causa ludendi – to play for the sake of playing.
Hutchison said: “A recent article implied that Queen’s Park have abandoned 150 years of our amateur tradition, and further, that the contracts we are asking some of our players to sign may be subject to scrutiny under employment legislation.”
“That is not the case and I would like to reassure members, supporters and the wider football community that we remain totally committed to our philosophy of not paying our players.”
Hutchison said: “In 1995, we made the decision to sign players who had previously been professional at other clubs. At that time, we were advised by the Scottish Football League, that we could not sign these players on an amateur form. The pragmatic solution was to sign the players on a professional form which stated explicitly their wage would be £1 per week in lieu of expenses.
“When the Scottish Professional Football League came into being in 2013 they produced a new contract form which did not have the facility to use the term ‘in lieu of expenses’. This has never been an issue as we explain to each player who signs a professional form with us what is exactly involved in their contract, so there is no basis for doubt in the future.
“Therefore we have players who are on professional forms but are on exactly the same expenses structure – based on how far away they live from Hampden – as those on amateur forms. The expenses paid are therefore purely reimbursement for costs incurred.”
This practice has been accepted, and Hutchison added: “HMRC did not have a problem with this either at the time this solution was set up, or at our last payroll audit.”