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Part-time football poser for Scottish clubs

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Jack Ross | 10:46 UK time, Monday, 25 April 2011

Sometimes in life there is an undeserved stigma attached to working in a certain profession.

In football terms, it seems that being part-time is a tag that some in the game would prefer to avoid.

For example, in a season where more clubs are suffering severe financial problems there is often a quote from someone within the respective club announcing that the situation is so bad that they may have to go part-time.

Furthermore, although Raith Rovers' defeat at Dunfermline on Sunday makes promotion more unlikely, they could have arrived in the SPL with - to the horror of a few - some part time players!

To begin with, there are undoubted benefits to being a full-time professional football player, in terms of your game development and the subsequent success of your club.

The preference for all players and clubs to have this status is a given, but what of those who sit on the cusp of being full-time: are there ways in which to move to being part-time without fear of being held in lower esteem?

Callum Woods (left) closes in on Raith Rovers' John Baird

I believe there are, and these will be ways in which clubs will have to explore if they are to protect their future existence in an economic sense, but still give themselves the best opportunity of producing a winning team.

For example, most of our part-time players will hold jobs away from their club and train twice a week in the evening in preparation for a match day.

Rather than be happy with this almost accepted arrangement, could more teams not seek to offer players more employment, training and education opportunities through board members, associates and sponsors of the club?

Such a relationship between a club and local businesses could facilitate more training sessions during the week and even during the day as working or training hours were structured to allow this.

The benefits to a club in this sense could be fitter, better players and could result in players enjoying far longer spells at clubs as they benefit from employment in two areas thus leading to greater continuity within a squad.

Furthermore, the presence of many more players working in the local community may help generate an increased affection for the team as supporters feel a true association with those playing for the side on matchdays.

There is no doubt that there has been an erosion of the ability of an average fan to relate to players, but this could possibly reverse the trend and result in increased attendances and increased revenues.

I acknowledge my opinion on this is perhaps much more difficult to implement in reality and would be dependent on the desire of a club, players and many other individuals to develop such a set-up.

However, if you cast an eye across the North Sea and examine the success of some Scandinavian clubs in having this type of infrastructure then there is proof that it can be done.

The success of our top clubs and international side will always be based on our ability to retain a good number of full-time sides, especially those who are constantly looking to push the boundaries of their professionalism and produce top players.

However, what about the many sides who underpin this side of the game?

Why not look to bridge the dramatic gap in training routine from full-time to part-time football? Why not create a new environment where players can strive for progression as a player but can also work, train or be educated for a better future outside the game?

Part-time football does not have to an unacceptable phrase in Scottish football. In fact, for some, it could just be the best way forward.


  • Comment number 1.

    With "full time" wages being as low as they are at certain teams around the country, I'm sure there are plenty of players with decent day jobs who play part time as this allows this them to make far more money. Some full time players at decent sized 1st division clubs will make £300 per week. Thats a salary of £15k (admittedly before bonuses etc). If you're earning £20k (hardly a fortune) in your 9-5 and earning another £150 per week to play part time (and there are even junior players earning that) you're far better off doing that.

  • Comment number 2.

    Unfortunately, without some sort of radical change to the conditions of part-time football, smaller clubs can never compete with their full-time counterparts. Case in point: Livi's progress in Division 2 this season. Forfar, Brechin and others only started to fall away after the midweek games started coming around after the winter postponements. It seems unfair that guys who work all day have to play evening matches against opponents that have not. The only advantage that part-time clubs have is that sometimes they can hang on to their better players despite the advances of full-time clubs, because of the reasons mentioned by Ferry_Arab.

    I think I remember an interview on Sportsound with Jim Duffy when he was Brechin manager, saying that Rory McAllister had been offered moves to full-time clubs but didn't want to give up his job as a plumber because he was making more money than the pro clubs could offer.

    Maybe an introduction of a winter break would help these part-time teams to compete better. Given the state of places like Station Park, there are always going to be a large number of postponements involving these teams, meaning they will face midweek matches. Granted, there aren't often many teams in the 2nd Division that are full-time, but if either of the Angus clubs were to win promotion via the playoffs this season, can you imagine them competing with the likes of Dundee, Falkirk, etc? Remember Brechin in 2003/4?

  • Comment number 3.

    We really need to come to terms with the fact that Scotland is not a big enough country to sustain 2 full time leagues. There is no other sport that has even one full time league in Scotland. In sports like Rugby and ice hockey pro teams need to play in cross border leagues so frankly it is challenge enough having 1 full time league in Scotland never mind 2 for football. I am an Ayr United fan but have very rarely been to games this season as it is £15 to get in. I have no problem with my club being part time but I cannot justify paying so much to watch a football match especially when that is not the players main employment I watched an English Premier League match for the same price earlier in the season and had a better view with better facilities. Football fans are customers and need to be treated with respect and not like mugs yes some will pay whatever is asked of them but in the long term when they are dead and buried who is going to take their place. How can a club like Ayr justify increasing ticket prices by 50% over 2 years in a recession? Plenty of other clubs have been like this so it is a league wide problem.

    Less full time spots I think will be better for our national team as there would be more competition for these spots and perhaps we could export more players or players go to other countries at a young age and benefit from it. The other Celtic nations have over the last 5 years had good spells yet they don't have full time leagues. I think we need to increase the size of the 2nd tier in Scotland to take away stigma of part time football. Too many teams e.g. Morton, Partick, Q.O.S and Ross County for instance have stayed full time possibly more out of fear of relegation if they did not. If we had 14 or more clubs then at least half the league would probably be part time and part time teams could get up and have a reasonable chance of staying up.

    How can Livingston justify their wage bill? They have had crowds not any better than Ayr's and that is when they have been doing well, I don't even think they own their stadium they have been on brink of going bust twice yet are allowed to spend beyond their means what lessons have been learned?

  • Comment number 4.

    Great article.

    I feel that Scotland has so many clubs because of the influence of football in our small communities and the early origins of the game.

    if clubs such as St. Johnstone and St. Mirren can operate as businesses eturning profits each year then they have the right to attain a position in the Scottish football professiona leagues. This is the same rule for our newest club Annan Athletic.

    It would be a shame if we decided to reduce the size of the clubs in the league suggested by grazza87. Each club has a strong history and tradition as scottish football members, and therefore a right to exist in the present set up. Arbroath winning their first title in over 120 years is proof that excitement and success can florish in unlikely places throughout the game.

    I hope tht part time status for players becomes a newoption for most clubs, icnluding potential SPL wannabees...its a sign of the times, and surely many clubs can balanace their books by creating two levels of full time and part time within the game, both accepted as economic realities.

    Dunfermline Ath. are an example of a club with no cash, yet prudent signing from McIntyre has assembled a skillfull squad and with time has climbed ot pole posiiton in the division one. I wish other clubs allowed their managers more time to build, and this may include part time players within a full time club.

    When I first started watching the Scottish Premier bck in the 1970's, the clubs included in the top flight of football were Ayr, Dumbarton, Clydebank, Morton, times have changed. I am sure that its only a matter of time when we see clubs being promoted to the SPL with part time players within their ranks.

  • Comment number 5.

    First off, I think its quite apt that you of all people have chosen this as a topic of discussion.

    Its apt (I think) for two reasons. A. - You played part time prior to Clyde's promotion to the 1st Div. B. - with a degree in Economics, the chances are you could have made more money out the game than you ever did in it. - so this subject must be close to your heart.

    I think part time is a workable solution that would fit many small clubs financial situation. It's important to set stigma to one side and be pragmatic. Clubs could get over the obstacle of mid week fixtures by having open agreements with local employers. If a player has to miss 1-2 days of work because of club arrangements they could offer financial compensation to the businesses. I'm sure that after all is said and done they could get the best out of players and keep their other employers happy for less than the cost of a financially inviable full time contract.

  • Comment number 6.

    good article! but even though i agree that players should make as much money from the game as they can and part time football for some fattens up there wages im sure most part time players do it for the love of the game! but i think if there are more clubs going down the part time road the fans will suffer in the long term and so will the clubs as fans wont want to pay over inflated prices to watch part time players who over the course of the season will not be as fit or sharp as there full time counter-parts. before clubs jump the gun and panic themselves in to part-time football try all other options first a full time youth program with 1 or 2 old pros in there would be my idea!

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    If you are in the top division (the SPHell) you shouldn't be part-time. Thats just embarrassing. It might well be an option for the lower leagues but it has no place in a top division.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thank you as always for your comments.

    When I played part time I did so for the love game as oppose to any significant financial gain and also because I recognised it could give me a platform to move up the levels again. When I was given the opportunity to go full time on a low wage I was able to do so because of my age and relatively small responsibilities. The problem arises when players with mortgages/families etc cannot make the jump from part time to full time because of salary changes. In this case some kind of middle ground would offer good players a chance to still progress to better clubs and stronger leagues.

  • Comment number 10.

    Good topic Jack you have certainly have the knowledge of both sides of the arguement. Also good to you for sticking your degree out and obtaining your qualification, if only so many other footballers did the same rather than thinking their going to make a vast amount of money only to be let down not by themseselves but by clubs and managers who can dictate a young professionals career.
    If a manager doesn't think your face fits, then so be it and your on the road to nowhere and Jack with your time in the game you most certainly have seen this on a number of occasions!

    Having friends being part time in Scottiish Football, a so called second division club didn't pay their players for their pre-season training, this is and was a disgrace! So effectively the players were on a 42 week contract for the season! Also what if a player gets injured playing for their club? Does the club pay their medical bill? Do they still get their wages?

    Being part time is a huge thing to ask for many of the players who also have full time jobs, for instance leaving work early to play mid week, does the club reimburse these players expenses or time lost through work?

    600 players are released down south every year from academy football, within five years of being released from their club only 100 are still in the game!

    Sorry for being so down hearted but it would be in a players best interest to get an education or a trade, play part time football in the lower divisions and then if your good enough, hopefully you would be picked up by a senior full time club (a path that you have taken your self Jack)

  • Comment number 11.

    why not make all of scotish football part time it might as well be with the exception of rangers and celtic, you get bigger crowds at League 2 games in england than you get in many scottish premier games. its a joke..look at the league table difference from second to thirs is 20 points and then a further 8 points to 4th. it atwo team league with the ionly way teams survive is when the big two visit,, then you get a crowd. be realistic. let the big two play in the english championship( thats their level) and the rest should form a amatuer feeder system to the english leagues under the premiership

  • Comment number 12.


    Why would Scottish clubs want to play in the Greed League? No demand among any fans here for it. No demand among fans in England for it.

    But before you use the word 'joke' you might want to revist your arithmetical assumptions. Its not a simple comparison between leagues using attendance figures only. Factor in the population size between the nations and a difference of over x10 between England and Scotland. So if a team in Scotland got 2500 of a Saturday that might be equivalent to...??? in England

    Only then can you draw some meaningful comparisions. You might even find that per head of population more people in Scotland attend football than in England. And this might even change your conclusions.

    After all you wouldn't want to look completly stupid would you?!


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