Players struggle to earn decent crust in the lower divisions

Footballers outwith Scotland's top tier are struggling to earn enough from the game to continue dedicating themselves to it.

The Scottish Football League has 30 members but only 143 of their players can expect to receive a salary this summer and a sizeable percentage of that total consists of teenagers on Skill Seekers programmes earning the minimum wage.

The 20 clubs in the Second and Third Divisions operate on a part-time basis and even those under contract to them won't receive payment during the close season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

More worryingly, four First Division clubs (newly-promoted, part-time Ayr United, Dundee, Morton and Queen of the South) don't currently have enough registered players to make up a team. In fact, Ayr and Queens couldn't find eleven players between them.

Livingston have the biggest squad in the division with 28 players but 17 of them are apprentices, while Falkirk, who boast 20, also include a large number of youth players.

Meanwhile, PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart claims that an increasing number of experienced players are contemplating giving up full-time football rather than face not earning during the summer.

"Guys in their mid-to-late 20s who play in the First Division are telling me they're not sure it's worth their while playing on," he said.

"They've reached the stage where they realise they're not going to play at the highest level and the ones who have kids are now seriously looking for full-time jobs outside the game.

"Most of them will have to retire from playing at around 35 anyway so it makes sense for them to get a foot in the job market sooner rather than later.

"A lot of the players released by clubs last month will be offered new terms by the same clubs next month but they'll have to do their pre-season training - and possibly play in pre-season games - without a contract or a wage.

"I can understand why seasonal contracts make financial sense from the clubs' point of view but, in the current climate, you can't blame footballers for looking for job security.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"You look at Barcelona earning 110m for winning the Champions League and it's obvious the game is awash with cash but it's not trickling down. It's just going round and round at the highest level so the rich get richer while everyone else is struggling."

That certainly applies to First Division players on 500 per week (if only for 10 months of the year) but clubs are also struggling to stay afloat.

David Thomson, the Scottish Football League's communications officer, sympathises with the players but believes that, with the effects of the global recession still being felt, his members are right to rein in spending.

"It's traditionally been the case that clubs in the lower leagues don't pay wages during the close season," he said. "Even the part-time players in the First Division will have contracts which make specific reference to no payments during that period.Full-time players, until recently, would have been given contracts which lasted until June 30. Now, though, they expire as soon as the season's over."

The cost of relegation from the First Division has already been felt by Jocky Scott's Stirling Albion, who don't have a single player registered at the moment, while Cowdenbeath, who were also demoted, have only seven players under contract.

Related topics: