New Non-League Contracts Will See Injured Players Face Pay Reductions and Contract Termination

Players face contract termination if injured for at least four months.

March 24th 2023

Non-league players are protesting the introduction of new FA-imposed playing contracts from next season, which could see injured players face a reduction in pay and, in some circumstances, contract termination.

The new contract regulations are set to come into force for any contract signed on or after July 1 2023, but has been met with opposition from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and high-profile National League players.

Under the proposals, football clubs will be able to introduce ‘sick pay’ that only guarantees players full pay for 12 weeks at National League level, or six weeks in any division below. Clubs will be able to automatically reduce a player’s wages to statutory sick pay of £99.35 per week for up to 28 weeks.

Furthermore, a club will be able to terminate a player’s contract if – in the opinion of a club-instructed medic – the player is unable to play through illness or injury for more than four months. This is a major change from current rules, which state that a club can only end a contract if a player suffers a career-ending injury.

The contract changes mark a major threat to the financial security of National League players, who don’t make the same money as players in the EFL or Premier League, but also don’t commonly have other forms of income.

Speaking exclusively to VERSUS, Dagenham & Redbridge player Matt Robinson said:

“These changes make players very vulnerable. You can imagine players being more cautious in how they play because becoming injured could suddenly put their livelihood at risk.

22 out of the 24 clubs in our league are full-time professional, so we don’t hold other occupations. For this to be your only income – and for that to be put at jeopardy with clubs having power of contract termination – it’s something me and my teammates are going to have to be wary of. It could put a lot of players in vulnerable positions.

This is a contact sport. Injuries can happen to anyone at anytime – this isn’t like other jobs. If this was something being proposed at EFL level or in any other professional league, people would be in uproar. As players, we don’t feel like we’re being protected in our work environment.”

The PFA – which has 80% of National League players within its membership – say they’re unable to support these changes and are looking at ways to help. Oldham Athletic’s Peter Clarke has said that strike action among players next season is “quite possible”.