rule change | 

Minimum wage of €430 per week to be introduced for League of Ireland players

Part-time professional players will be paid €130 per week, a sticking point in discussions with the union looking for more but meeting with objections from First Division outfits.

Roberto Lopes, left, was involved in talks© SPORTSFILE

Daniel McDonnellIndependent.ie

Senior professional players in the League of Ireland will be entitled to a minimum wage of €430 per week from next season in a significant change to the football landscape in this country.

Negotiations involving the players union PFA Ireland, the FAI’s National League Committee (NLC) and representative bodies acting on behalf of clubs in each division have reached a conclusion that will impact on working terms and conditions.

sundayworld.com has learned that full-time professional players aged 20 and over will now be paid a minimum of €430 per week starting from the 2023 season.

That would more than double the pay for some lower paid squad members at certain clubs.

Part-time professional players will be paid €130 per week, a sticking point in discussions with the union looking for more but meeting with objections from First Division outfits.

However, part-time professionals must now be paid from the beginning of pre-season until November 30 – which puts them in line with the full-timers - whereas previously a number of part-time clubs only handed out wages when the competitive season kicked off. That practice is no longer permitted and players at all levels will also have to be paid during the mid-season-break.

The €430 per week figure translates to an annual salary of €22,360 if individuals are paid for 52 weeks, although players on one year deals may not be paid for the full 52 weeks if they are released at the end of the season.

But guaranteed payment up until November 30 and mandated payment from the beginning of the next pre-season means the majority will now be on those terms for the guts of 11 months.

The minimum wage amounts will be slightly lower for teenagers with a tiered system based on ages. For a 19-year-old, the amount is €380 while it’s €330 for 18-year-olds and €280 for 16 and 17 year olds.

For part-timers, the equivalent amounts are €120, €105 and €90 respectively. Clubs also retain the ability to register squad members as amateurs and pay them expenses.

There is also a provision for clubs who pay for the accommodation and education of their employees. In each case, there’s a €100 allowance so, to give an example, a club paying for the accommodation and education of a 20-year-old player would only have to pay them a minimum wage of €230 per week under the terms of the Standard Players Contract.

Union representatives have been involved in long term discussions with the NLC which is chaired by former government minister Dermot Ahern and includes three reps from the First Division, three from the Women’s National League, four from the Premier Division and FAI board member Joe O’Brien.

The process kicked off last April when active players Roberto Lopes (Shamrock Rovers), PFAI chair Brendan Clarke (Shelbourne) and part-time goalkeeper Lee Steacy (then Longford now Drogheda) made a presentation to the NLC which detailed the working time and commitment they give to football.

This set the wheels in motion for talks between relevant parties, and the process reached a conclusion last week. The final decisions were thrashed out in talks between League Director Mark Scanlon and the Premier Clubs Alliance and First Division Alliance, separate bodies acting on behalf of clubs in the two divisions. Scanlon has functioned as a go-between throughout the process.

If Waterford defeat UCD in Friday’s promotion/relegation playoff, then Drogheda United will be the only part-time club in next year’s Premier Division barring a change in status – and they are in talks with prospective owners.

The First Division is predominantly part-time or amateur although champions Cork, Waterford and Galway operated full-time set-ups this year.

There are complexities to the new arrangements, however, and they are likely to revolve around whether clubs who train in the morning define all of their squad members as full-time.

At the top end of the league, there are clubs who will not be seriously affected by the minimum wage change because most of their squad earn above the threshold.

But there are concerns further down the food chain about whether this change represents too much too soon and may lead to clubs running smaller squads to keep costs down, thus meaning there are fewer contracts to go around.

The minimum wage initiative ties in with other alterations to the working climate, including rules on compensation for the movement of out-of-contract players.

Under the old rules, a club would have to pay the equivalent of one year’s salary to the player’s former club – Andy Lyons’ move from Bohemians to Shamrock Rovers last winter is a high-profile example.

Now, the amount is calculated on the basis of their length of service and number of appearances for the club they wish to leave.

As it stands, the Women’s National League is entirely amateur but talks about a change of status remain ongoing – and it’s expected clubs at that level will have to pay the same amount with a transition to part-time play the most likely short term scenario


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