The Insider on player wages at Non League Step 5 and 6

The Football in Bracknell insider.
The Football in Bracknell insider.

‘The Insider’ writes for Football in Bracknell every month from the point of view of someone who has played the game and experienced the ups and downs of a season in non league football on the pitch.

Money talks. I’ve been involved in non league football for the best part of 10 years and the topic of money is always prevalent amongst clubs. Sometimes this is for a good cause, but largely, it is for the worst.

The topic of conversation i’m referring to here is largely related to step 5 and step 6 clubs; I feel for step 4 clubs and above there should always be a payment towards players purely for some of the distances they have to travel. The amount of money distributed towards step 5 and step 6 clubs however, is a cause for a concern.

Before we even get started on the amounts, I feel step 5 and step 6 clubs needs to think about the main reason people play football at this level. Is it for money? Or is it because we love the sport and enjoy playing at a competitive, well structured standard? Sure, it is an added bonus to receive a payment, but largely we play for the love and enjoyment. At any level, anyone who invests in a football club will more often than not come out at a loss, so being smart is key to success.

I have been involved in clubs who have distributed money towards players in a variety of different ways. The most successful at step 5? Win bonuses and equal payments for all players involved. Every starting player got £20. Everyone off the bench £10. £5 win bonus. £5 goal/clean sheet bonus. We came 3rd and won a cup final. The least successful? One player receiving a substantial payment, whilst the rest weren’t on anything. He ended up leaving to go to a higher level for more money because we spent all our money on him. To hear some 3 figure sums being dished out at step 5 is absolutely crazy! How can clubs expect to make a profit when they’re handing out a weekly budget of £500+ and only getting 40 people through the door every other week?

‘It’s not sustainable to promise heavy investment’

As we have seen with Abingdon Town, who had to field a team of 8 players the other week, and arguably what we are seeing at Reading City currently, it’s not sustainable to promise heavy investment. For a start, it encourages greed of players, and secondly players simply don’t have the loyalty to clubs anymore and will leave when a better offer comes in. More importantly, when it goes wrong, or dries up, it can have detrimental impacts for other teams in the league at either end of the table.

Personally speaking, I have never gone to a club asking for money. If they think my ability is worth a wage, I’ll let them offer me what they think is appropriate. The idea of win bonuses, goal bonus/clean sheet bonuses is much more appealing to me because it is an incentive towards performing well. Similarly, if the team isn’t performing, the club isn’t losing money. Sure, depending on the teams location within their league, a small base wage for petrol money can be implemented. To be a successful, well run club, I feel incentivising payment is the best way to go and makes a team come together.

The Insider is a look in to the semi professional game from the players point of view. Look out for a new column on the last Thursday of every month. Previous columns here. Got a question? Ask via our Contribute page.

Do you agree with The Insider? Should league’s think more about player well being or is it a case that they should just get on with it? Let us know in the comments below.

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