What’s it like to be an unemployed footballer?


Former Ross County sporting director Boyd on redundancy

With contracts now expired and an uncertain transfer market ahead, many players find themselves without a club, unsure what will come next.

So what is it like to be out of a job as a footballer? BBC Scotland has spoken to four players at different levels of the game to find out.

The international player

Scotland right-back Stephen O’Donnell chose to reject an offer of a new contract with Kilmarnock after three seasons at Rugby Park. He turned down a move to English League One side Oxford United in January and has found himself with fewer options than he might have expected.

There were a few options before and I was just sitting tight. Now they are, not so much off the table, but have maybe just dropped back a wee bit because budgets are getting reassessed.

Hopefully I will have options, but time will tell. There is no point getting hung up on it, there are far more important things going on in the world and I am fortunate I have a good family around me.

The player returning from abroad

Kallum Higginbotham has returned after an eventful season in the Indian I-League with David Robertson’s Real Kashmir. The 30-year-old former Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Dunfermline Athletic forward’s time in the war-torn region ended with almost 50 days in quarantine at his hotel.

If I was in this situation in the past, I would have been a hell of a lot more worried than I am now. I think that is because the situation I have just come through in India has made me stronger mentally.

In the past it used to be the be-all and end-all for me. If I didn’t get a club in the first couple of weeks, I would start panicking. But I feel relaxed about the situation. I’m in the mindset of what will be, will be.

I have got a mortgage and a family to look after, but I believe football will take care of itself.

The part-time manager

Former Ross County and Motherwell midfielder Paul Lawson is cutting his managerial teeth at part-time Highland League side Formartine United. The 36-year-old was recently made redundant from his Aberdeen-based role in business development for an oil company.

My girlfriend is on maternity leave at the moment, so it is a tough time, but things could be a whole lot worse. We are healthy and happy. It is going to be difficult to pick something up quickly, because it is going to be some time before the oil industry is back to its full capacity again.

That can have a big impact on things like sponsorship for football clubs, too. We are fortunate that we are very well-backed but we could see a hit further down the line. At the moment it is OK, but the coming months could be telling.

The former player behind the scenes

Former Ross County defender Scott Boyd was recently made redundant from his role as the club’s sporting director. It is not the only way in which the 33-year-old has been directly affected by Covid-19, either.

Me, my wife, and my kids – who are six and three – all tested positive for the virus, but have come through it. My wife is a carer and it was in her care home. Thankfully the kids didn’t have any symptoms and me and my wife had mild ‘flu’, but we are still here.

It has just been a crazy 10 weeks between that and losing my job. It does put a lot of things into perspective when you get the news that you have got it.



BBC