life after sport what's your plan B?

5 July 2022

You’ve been lucky enough to live the dream and have earned a decent living from your time in the game. it’s definitely been an emotional rollercoaster…

but, now you’re leaving your sporting career behind, How are you going to replicate that day-to-day buzz?

Whether you’ve left (or are leaving) your professional sporting career behind due to rejection, injury, or retirement, you may be feeling at a bit of a loss. The buzz of being surrounded by teammates and supporters is no more, leaving a void you’re keen to fill – whether that’s through keeping active, pursuing a new hobby, taking up a new career path, or investing in businesses.

If you’ve been lucky enough to make it to the typical retirement age in sport of 35, you’ve still got so much more life to live and enjoy, but when you’ve only really been earning your maximum for 8-10 of those 35 years, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to fulfil your future ambition.

But before we get to the financial side of career transition, let’s first talk about the mental and emotional wellbeing of ex-players.

When asked for his thoughts on this as part of a State of Sport investigation, Simon Taylor, Chief Exec of the Professional Players’ Federation (PPF), said, “Transition from professional sport can be a daunting prospect. The fact that retirement for sportsmen and women normally happens in their 30s only compounds the problems. It’s not unusual to hear players speak about feelings of mourning and grief when they retire.”

He’s right.

I’ve seen first-hand how not fully preparing for life after professional sport can have a profound effect on the psychological wellbeing of players and athletes, and this is backed up by the eye-opening statistics.

“Only 50% of the players surveyed felt in control of their lives within two years of finishing their playing careers.” Source: The Professional Players’ Federation (PPF).

A past player survey by the PPF revealed that more than half of former professional sportspeople have had concerns about their mental or emotional wellbeing since retiring, with athletes sharing they’ve ‘lost their identity’. Sadly, the sudden change in athletic identity that takes place through the transition into the ‘real world’ can lead to feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, and anger for many.

Dame Kelly Holmes DBE OLY, who retired in 2005, was open about the depression she experienced after her sporting career ended. “The biggest thing I felt was a loss of identity and purpose.”

Depression, self-harm addiction, financial problems – they’re all real manifestations.

Often it’s the financial hardship they didn’t see coming or simply weren’t prepared for. According to the research, the first 5 years after sport is commonly when most will experience financial difficulties.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, so long as you have a plan. And whilst you can’t plan for every single eventuality (that’s life after all), you can make positive steps to ensure your journey for life after sport is both a positive and rewarding one.

In both personal and business financial planning, building a safety net (your Plan B) is such an important and reassuring step to make.


Here are just 3 simple things you can do to make sure the transition to ‘life after the game’ is as smooth as possible from a financial perspective.

1. SCRUTINISE YOUR OUTGOINGS

Take a long look at your current outgoings and ask yourself what you really need to be spending each month. Sure it sounds like very basic advice, but you’d be surprised at how many athletes believe their contracts will last forever and that the ££s will keep on rolling in.

You may have become accustomed to living a certain lifestyle but are finding your bank balance can’t quite keep up with that now. So instead of depriving yourself, be realistic with how much you can enjoy and consider stripping back on some ‘nice to haves’.

2. GET TAX SAVVY

In the case of team sports, you’ll likely have been an employee of the club and therefore received a base salary, subject to PAYE. It was all taken care of for you, so managing tax isn’t really something you’ve had to think about in great detail. Until now.

There are so many ways to maximise your personal taxes, particularly when it comes to structuring your earnings outside of the world of sport. You just need the advice and know-how. For instance, if your children are in private education, you could look at investment portfolio options to pay fees in a more tax-efficient manner.

Receiving income from sponsorships, endorsements, appearances, or image rights? You might be entitled to claiming tax reliefs on things you never knew were possible. It’s important to note that tax benefits will depend on your personal tax position – the rules are very much subject to change.

Perhaps you’re running your own sports consultancy business. In this scenario, receipts and expenses will be linked to your business’s activity and treated as made to/by you personally rather than assessable on your company.

Either way, whether it’s your personal or business affairs, it’s always a good idea to seek professional finance advice and in doing so, you’ll soon become tax savvy.

3. CONSIDER NEW BUSINESS VENTURES

Now’s the time to put your hard earned money to good use, but before jumping in head first with new ideas, make the most of the support available to you to soundboard those ideas.

Talk with advisors who ‘get you’, have been in your shoes and can talk from experience. Ultimately, this is the ‘make or break’ moment for you in deciding what to do next, and you simply can’t, or shouldn’t, do it alone.

With your advisor (us), talk about how you can use your professional sporting career and passion to build a new business venture. Have you thought about investing in property? Businesses that are doing something you’re an advocate for? Making wise investments like these are likely to retain or grow in value through the next phase of your life.


THERE’S NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT…

Timing’s everything and you’ll need to strike it at the right time. Don’t wait until you’ve finished your professional career, losing 2-3 years figuring out your future.

You shouldn’t have to sell your house to downsize to afford the life you want to live, and crucially, you shouldn’t find yourself in a situation where you feel you’re struggling mentally or financially.

plan, prepare, and action for a painless transition

I’ll be honest – those 5 years after sport won’t be easy, but with the right support network and a solid plan in place, you’ll be on to a winner.

plan b in play

When it comes to planning for a positive financial future after sport, feel free to get in touch – I’ll be more than happy to talk things through.

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