Football Clubs Unable to Pay Players Wages

Football players’ wages

Football players, especially those performing in the FA Premier League, are some of the most highly paid individuals working in the United Kingdom. Accordingly the situation whereby these individuals do not receive their wages is one which is met with little sympathy from the British public. However, it is a situation which is more frequent in its occurrence than may be first thought.

Why would it occur that players will not be paid their wages?

An individual football player may be deducted wages – often in the area of two weeks wages – for disciplinary action.

Is this legal to do?

This is perfectly legal to do as a player will have been found to be in breach of his duties and obligations as a professional footballer and accordingly will be fined. Often this happens if a player has had some trouble in their personal life where they might have been involved in a fight in a night club or something similar.

Clubs are perfectly within their legal rights to undertake such action.

However, in certain situations there will occur the situation where the entire playing staff does not receive their wages and where there has been no occurrence of ill-discipline.

When will this occur?

When a football club is going through certain financial difficulties it may occur that they are unable to meet certain outgoings one of which may be the paying of the players’ wages. This is a particular problem for clubs playing in the lower leagues of the Football League but recently this has occurred to a Premier League club. The Club was just about to enter into administration following high profile problems with the ownership of the club and the club was unable to pay the players wages.

Is it legal for the club to do this?

It is not legal for the club to do this as this is a clear breach of the employment contact that the players will have with the club. Football players are employees in much the same way as individuals working in any other industry and accordingly are subject to the same rights as any other employee in England and Wales under the Employment Rights Act 1996. One of the rights of an employee is to be paid.

Would a player be able to walk away from his contract due to not being paid?

A player would be able to terminate his contract with the club due to the material breach committed by the club in not paying him. However, it is not always likely that a player will do this.

Why is it unlikely that a player would do this?

Often when a football club is suffering financial difficulties and they are unable to play their players the players will group together for the good of the club. In many instances it is therefore unlikely for players to simply walk away due to the fact they have not been paid their weekly wages.

A football player who does not show the solidarity for the club which he plays for when the club is in a difficult position may be unlikely to find another club if he simply walks away from his contract. This is due to the fact that he seems simply concerned with money rather than the love of the game. Footballers earn vast sums of money and although the situation of them not being paid on time is regrettable it is viewed as something which they can endure until the club secures a better financial position.

If a club misses the payment for the players’ wages will the players receive this eventually?

It is likely that if a club misses a weekly payment for the players’ wages that the players will eventually receive this payment.

For example a high profile Spanish club when the Presidency changed hands during June 2010 was unable to meet one weekly deadline for the payment of players’ wages. However, once the new President was able to get the house in order the payment for the players’ wages was met.

What happens if the club is not able to get its house in order?

If a club is not able to get its house in order and suffers such financial problems that it looks as if it will go out of business, the usual course of action is for the club to go into administration. If a club goes into administration assets, such as the training complex, will be sold in order to recoup money and thus pay off creditors.

When this happens to a football club the football creditors will be paid before any other creditors such as HM Revenue and Excise. This is termed the football super creditors rule and means that if a football club goes into administration the players’ wages will be paid as a priority over other non football related creditors.

Is there a body which will assist football players if the club is not able to pay their wages?

All professional footballs playing in the Premier League and Football League are represented by a body called the Professional Footballers’ Association (the PFA). If players have not been paid their wages they will receive assistance from the PFA to ensure that the matter is concluded in the interests of both the players and the club.