Are pay as you play contracts acceptable under Employment Law?

Legal problems for clubs who employ players who are continually injured

When a football clubs signs a particular player they will often pay a transfer fee and in most cases will pay large amounts of money to the player for his wages. This is all done on the basis that the player will recoup some of that money the club has spent on them by performing on the pitch and hopefully bringing some success to that particular club.

However, in certain circumstances a player will not do this and the club will lose out on huge amounts of money.

In what situation will this occur?

The most common situation whereby this will occur is when a player suffers bad injury problems and is unable to play.

Is it legal for a club to simply terminate the contract with the player due to the injury problems suffered by that player?

It would be illegal for a club to terminate a contract with a football player simply due to the fact that the player is injured. This would constitute an unfair dismissal under employment law.

What can the club do in this situation?

In most cases all the club can do in this situation is to pay the player while his contract runs out and do not offer him another contract. In certain situations if the player is a high earner and has not played for a long period of time where it looks like he will not return the club may wish to encourage him to retire and effectively terminate the contract himself. Whether a football player still being paid vast amount of wages would accept to do this is an unlikely position.

What happens if the club wishes to retain the services of a player?

In some situations where a player has suffered many injury problems but still retains some level of fitness or he has reached a certain age but in both cases he can still have some effect on the football team the club will offer him a pas as you play deal.

What is meant by a pay as you play deal?

Under a pay as you play deal the player will be contracted to the club for a certain amount of time under a standard FA Premier League contract. The only difference to the make-up of that player’s contract than other players in the team is that player will be paid when he makes an appearance for the club.

Often the player will be on a very low base salary and has the option of increasing that by working hard and making appearances on the pitch.

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For more information on:

  • Is this a desirable position for a player?
  • Is this a desirable position for the club?
  • Is it legal for football clubs to do this?