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The Adam Doyle column: Football for love or money? An alternative view

Woking FC's Adam Doyle (pictured) continues his regular column with one of the most honest portrayals of a footballer's motivation that you are going to read. Without taking away anything from his performance on the pitch, Doyle reveals some of the practical problems of semi-professional football.

Mirroring the explosion of wealth in the wider economy over the past two decades, professional football – and to a lesser extent, semi-professional football – has seen its stock rise towards what looks increasingly like a crumbling, rocky precipice.

Undoubtedly, the role of pay-per-view TV has played a large part in creating the football empire and has fuelled the insatiable desire of the top players to earn as much money as possible – much to the distaste of spectators and former professionals who cite a love for the game as their primary motivation.

As a part time non-league player, it is hard to feel disheartened by the rise in wealth associated with football, as the proliferation of money at the top of the game invariably drips down the ladder and enables me to top up the earnings from my full-time career.

Which prompts the question: do I play football for the love of the game, or for the earning potential it affords me? The instant retort of many people would, I imagine, be that football should be played for the love of the game; any remuneration being purely a bonus. I tend to take the alternative view.

Future commitments

Whilst I should point out that my current football salary is nowhere near the levels reached in the professional game, it is not an insubstantial sum that can be overlooked. Without it, my living standards would be markedly lower and my outlook regarding future commitments, such as getting on the housing ladder and saving for retirement, would have to change.

Therefore, I can say that receiving payment is the primary reason why I play football. I don’t play because I overly enjoy it, although I do gain at least some satisfaction from it. In fact, were it not for the payment received I find it unlikely that I would be playing football on a regular basis.

It may be hard for some readers to comprehend this attitude and it could lead them to question my commitment towards my current club. However, my indifferent attitude towards football and my commitment to my current club are not mutually exclusive. I’ll attempt to briefly explain why.

A semi-professional footballer, much like any other employees in any industry sector and job role, is paid for services rendered. I am paid to play and train for my club and, what’s more, to do so to the best of my abilities. I sincerely believe that I do this in every game I play and hopefully anyone who has had the (mis)fortune to see me play would testify this on my behalf. I am extremely competitive and passionate about winning.

Despite my lack of love for the game I am fully committed to fulfilling my side of the deal. Luckily my current club has been impeccable in holding up their side of the deal, which has not always been the case with some of my previous clubs.

Balancing careers

I am different from most of my semi-professional colleagues in that I don’t particularly enjoy the process of being a semi-professional footballer. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that I don’t enjoy having to balance a ten-month season and all it involves with my full-time career and social commitments.

Sometimes I find the inflexibility of the routine – Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday – a little stifling. Trying to progress in my full-time career whilst committing a lot of my spare time to semi-professional football is not something I find easy.

It can lead me to occasionally feel resentful towards football and what feels like an unfair intrusion on my spare time. Yet, as mentioned earlier, I am paid to play and any reservations are superseded by the commitment I have made to my club.

This is not an appeal for pity. I am aware some people will feel that my attitude doesn’t deserve the good fortune of being paid to play sport. Although, I would argue that my hard work has had a greater influence than pure luck.

I’m not moaning about something that millions of other people would feel delighted to do. I am merely pointing out that not everyone is involved in football for the same reasons. Some people live to play football. By viewing it as nothing more than a job, you could say that I play football in order to live.

By Adam Doyle, Woking FC

Get in touch on Twitter @adamhdoyle

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