Not many people shed a tear for the players when a club goes into administration. But the realities are that the creditors lose out and that the players involved in the majority of cases are at the lower level clubs. Out of the 60+ club insolvencies we have been involved in, only one was in the Premier League.
Footballers’ salaries differ wildly. The PFA published a league table in The Mail on Sunday recently stating average weekly earnings for players were as follows:
- £22,353 in the Premier League
- £4,059 in the Championship
- £1,140 in League One
- £747 in League Two
Clearly there is a huge variance, and you should note that an average career for a player lasts just eight years.
Players do have the advantage over other employees in that they can’t be sacked by an administrator (no use in liquidation) and over other non-football creditors as sums due to them must be paid by any successor owner of the club (no use if there isn’t one), but this comes at a cost.
Players can’t easily walk out on their clubs and there’s rarely enough money to pay the wages during the administration period. As a result the players “prop up” their club during this process, deferring huge sums (recently we saw around £10 million being rolled up by the players at Portsmouth and at Plymouth together, as those administrations both lasted nearly a full year) and gambling those deferrals. Why do they do this? Because if the club isn’t taken over they get written off and the club liquidates.
Sports insolvencies remain different from all others – people are sold to buy time, employees lend their wages to buy time, Unions even lend money to employers to buy time – to buy time for the next owner to come in and often do it all again!