When the Music Stops…

Just like many young boys, becoming a footballer was my dream. It was my passion; I lived and breathed the game. At the age of 12, having made the step-up to the academy of my boyhood club Leeds United, I was on the very first step of making that dream a reality. Unfortunately for myself, and just like many other boys and girls around the country, that dream never materialised. On a personal level however, it is pleasing to see a number of former teammates making their way in the professional game and I wish them continued success.

Looking back on my own experience of the system; being released as a 17 year old boy, in the space of a second your world crashes down around you with limited support available. For me, the silver lining was two-fold; I was at an age where I could get my head down and focus on my education and, because I hadn’t become accustomed to any sort of lavish lifestyle, from a financial sense I hadn’t necessarily lost anything.

The life of a professional footballer is full of pressure. The pressure of maintaining discipline at all times; the pressure of keeping up appearances whilst in the public eye and the all-important pressure of consistently performing at a high level on match day. All of these pressures can put a strain on the physical and mental wellbeing of the player.

Football is now a multi-billion pound industry with a high number of players earning significant sums of money during their playing career. Paradoxically, it is this increase in money that has led to a significant increase in the financial pressures of a footballer. A recent documentary, ‘No Hunger in Paradise’, highlighted some of the growing pressures on these players, especially young players who become exposed to large sums of money at such a young age. With ample time in-between training and game commitments, there are plenty of distractions which can potentially lead to these individuals spending the majority of their newly found wealth, understandably, without taking the time to think about life after football.

Upon reflection whilst watching the documentary, it became apparent that this is a serious concern and one which is relatively unique to football. However, as a financial planner in training, I believe the financial services industry could be addressing this. What actually happens to these players when the music stops?

My goal is to ensure that those who made it to the professional leagues have plans in place at an early enough stage, to ensure they do not become part of the statistic of ‘bankrupt former athletes’. Through education and the implementation of a holistic financial plan from the outset of their career, rising football stars can make longer term plans for financial security whilst still being able to enjoy their wealth. Below I have highlighted a couple of specific points to consider, which relate to the financial planning requirements of a footballer:

Shorter earning periods:

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) state the average playing career of a footballer is 8 years, with an average retirement age of 35. Therefore, based on the average life expectancy of UK males (79.2) and females (82.9), an 8 year playing career is required to fund a period of 45 to 50 years; with pension savings only being accessible at age 55 (20 years after retirement) if you joined the pension scheme after 6 April 2006.

In reality, it is highly unlikely that once a footballer retires they are going to sit around and do nothing for the rest of their days. However, what must be understood is that the chance of any future job having the same earning potential as the job of professional footballer are slim.

To help maintain the accustomed standard of living in retirement years, prudent financial planning should be implemented whilst there is still a good opportunity to do so. Robust investment, budgeting and protection planning are all elements that will help a player after they have hung up their boots.

Increase in outside threats:

The high profiles of professional athletes can make them vulnerable to targeting by individuals and companies offering products and services with huge tax incentives and investment returns. Often this turns out not to be the case and there have been numerous high profile stings over the years, with HMRC continuing to tighten the net on cases of tax evasion.

Our advice would be to make sure you trust the person who looks after your finances!

In addition to this, you can do your own research to ensure that you are getting the best financial planning available on the market. Key indicators to help you in this regard are to seek financial planning firms with ‘CII Chartered’ and or ‘CISI Accredited’ status.

Along with the professional world seeking to secure your custom, you may have noticed that your high profile may have led to a lot of people becoming your ‘friend’. We would urge footballers and professionals alike to try and recognise those people who are just along for the ride, taking advantage of your success, and those who will be there to help guide you once your career has finished.

Get in touch…

At Manse Capital we take the time to understand each and every one of our clients, what their needs and objectives are and how we can add value to their lives. Remember, your priority should always be to guarantee your financial security. Once this has been achieved, it really is down to you and your individual objectives.

Tom Malach

Financial Planning Analyst