Growing up as a child in the 80s, like most of my peer group, I dreamed of being a footballer. Had it not been for a serious knee injury at the age of 17 and my complete lack of ability, I’m pretty sure I would’ve made it.
However, if you can’t make it as a player the next best thing is to help the players with their finances. I am fortunate enough to represent scores of footballers with their mortgage needs alongside my colleague Mark Tueart and his team at LIFT-Sport.
As you can imagine, every mortgage broker in the country will tell you they want to deal with footballers. This is mainly because on the surface it seems like easy business. This is not actually true, the placement of this type of case is trickier than you might think.
Fundamentally footballers are not dissimilar to any other type of fixed-term contract worker. However, due to the nature of their profession, careful planning with regard to term and repayment methods need to be taken into consideration. As the tax is paid by the employer, footballers are treated as PAYE contractors.
A lot of the players that we work with are buying a property for the first time. They are heavily focused on their careers and preparing for their next match. They simply don’t have time for the details necessary in the mortgage process. That’s where we add value as our job is to fit the correct lender to the players’ circumstances with the end goal of enabling the client to pay off the mortgage before their natural playing career comes to an end.
We have picked up several players over the years that have had other brokers arrange mortgages for them in the early days of their careers. Some of these players are in their thirties and yet have twenty years of repayment left. This, in my mind, is poor planning. In most circumstances, we try to encourage clients to pay off the mortgage before the age of 35, whilst their income is high, and the player is in demand.
For some lenders, the time left on the current contract is a big issue, whereas other lenders will take a view based upon the player and their career history. For most outfield players, the term is limited to end by approximately 35 years of age, goalkeepers can typically run to the age of 40.
Several lenders these days will delve into the players’ career injury history. Some will also look at the number of appearances that the player has made and how many times they have been out on loan. Suddenly, what seems like it should be a relatively simple case can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Some lenders insist on career-ending insurance while others do not have this as a requirement.
The purchase of a pied-à-terre is often a common request, with flats close to the training ground often accompanying a larger purchase in the countryside.
Due to the transient nature of the sport the planning is generally relatively short-term with two-year fixed rate options often being the product of choice, this is because clients need flexibility.
The team at LIFT-Sport like to challenge me when we pick up a new client by simply telling me the name of the player. In the last seven years, I don’t think we’ve had a player that I couldn’t recite their club and career history. This encyclopaedic (almost sad) knowledge of football has helped me over the years to help hundreds of players to achieve their goals.