Tuesday, 23 Jul 2024

How Do Football Players Make Money And Do They Deserve It?

Tim Green / Flickr.com

In the world of professional football, players can earn exorbitant sums of money, prompting questions about the fairness and worthiness of such earnings. However, it’s important to understand the various factors that contribute to a player’s income and the diverse ways in which they can boost their bank accounts. Let’s take a closer look at the financial aspect of being a football player and explore the different avenues through which they earn their income.

How Much Does A Player Make Playing For A Club?

Cristiano Ronaldo - Oleg Dubyna
Image Source: Oleg Dubyna from Poltava, Ukraine, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The most obvious source of income for a player is their salary from playing football. In order to attract the best talent, football clubs need to offer competitive wages, just like any other organization seeking to recruit top professionals. While it may be difficult to fathom paying someone hundreds of thousands of pounds each week for playing a game, it’s essential to consider certain factors. Taxes and agent fees significantly impact a player’s earnings, and they also have to allocate funds for their entourage and daily life management. Additionally, football careers are relatively short, so players need to ensure financial security for their future beyond the game. It’s crucial to note that a player’s salary encompasses not just their playing time but also training, travel, and media commitments.

National team players, despite representing their countries, typically don’t receive payment for matches or training sessions. However, they may be entitled to bonuses if their national team achieves success in international tournaments.

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The Football Player Pay Scale

Wayne Rooney Wall Art - By Stefano Stabile
Image Source: Stefano Stabile, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the challenges in football is the significant disparity in wages across different divisions. For example, Wayne Rooney earned £300,000 per week when he signed a contract with Manchester United in 2014, while Paul Pogba received around £165,000 per week upon joining the same club in 2016. Comparatively, Callum Wilson earned £15,000 per week at Bournemouth in 2016. The pay scale becomes even more noticeable when moving down to lower divisions, where players in the Premier League earned an average of £1.7 million per year in the 2014-2015 season, while League Two players received an average of £40,350. These figures underscore the significant variation in pay within the football industry.

While the remuneration in football might seem excessive, it’s essential to consider the value of a player’s contribution. Just as businesses pay top salaries to attract talented salespeople or CEOs, football clubs believe in providing competitive wages for securing the best players. Additionally, the revenue generated from ticket sales and merchandise reflects the fans’ interest in watching these players in action. Therefore, the argument can be made that footballers are deserving of their financial rewards.


Paparazzi - Brian Gratwicke
Image Source: Brian Gratwicke / Flickr.com

Footballers at the pinnacle of their careers often have to make sacrifices that impact their daily lives. They live relatively secluded lives due to their fame, unable to engage in everyday activities like going to the cinema or running errands without being mobbed by fans. Their homes resemble fortified compounds, equipped with extensive security measures to protect their privacy from intruders and the prying eyes of the media. While sympathy may not be necessary, it’s important to recognize the sacrifices that accompany the extraordinary earnings.

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David Beckham - Chris Brown
Image Source: Chris Brown, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sponsorship plays a significant role in a football player’s income, particularly for high-profile players. They can earn substantial sums by endorsing various products and brands, ranging from football boots to sports drinks. Major sports companies like Nike, Adidas, and Puma compete to sign the biggest names in the game, as their association with these players boosts sales and strengthens their brand. The sponsorship opportunities for players are vast, covering various aspects of their lives, and can be highly lucrative.


Footballer Autobiography - Phalinn Ooi
Image Source: Phalinn Ooi / Flickr.com

As players approach the end of their careers, some may choose to share their experiences and stories by publishing autobiographies. Whether it’s sharing tales of triumph or highlighting their journey from lower leagues to the top of the game, these books provide fans with an insight into the player’s life. Autobiographies by footballers like Ian Wright, Johan Cruyff, Joey Barton, and David Beckham have become bestsellers, offering a source of income post-retirement.


Robbie Fowler, Player Turned Property Investor - Football Gallery
Image Source: Football Gallery / Flickr.com

Some players choose to invest their earnings in ventures such as property, ensuring a steady income stream long after they’ve retired. Robbie Fowler, for example, built an impressive property empire worth an estimated £31 million. While not all players possess the knowledge or expertise to invest in properties themselves, they have the means to seek guidance from financial advisors who can assist them in making prudent investment choices.

Coaching & Management

Image Source: Football.ua, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Transitioning into coaching or management is a natural path for many retired players. Some of the world’s top managers, such as Rafa Benitez, Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello, and Steve Bruce, were former players. Successful managers can earn substantial salaries, with figures like Pep Guardiola securing a £15 million per year contract with Manchester City and Zinedine Zidane earning £8 million per year as Real Madrid’s manager. However, not all players possess the skills or passion for coaching and management, making it a selective career path.

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Pundits - Ben Sutherland
Image Source: Ben Sutherland / Flickr.com

Becoming a pundit is another option for retired players to continue earning income through their knowledge and analysis of the game. With the ever-growing demand for football coverage across numerous broadcasting platforms, former players are sought after for their insights. From Sky Sports and BT Sport in the UK to NBC Sports Network in the US and beIN Sport in the Middle East, hundreds of broadcasters worldwide require pundits to provide critical commentary on matches. While punditry might not be suitable for everyone, those who excel in this field can enjoy a steady income.


This article has provided a glimpse into the various ways football players earn their income based on their position in the industry. From salaries and sponsorship deals to investments and post-retirement pursuits like coaching, management, and punditry, players have multiple avenues to secure financial stability. While it’s impossible to cover every aspect comprehensively, it’s clear that the football industry offers significant earning potential to those who reach the top of their game.