The Cost of a Career in Sport

As a career in Sport brings increasing fame and fortune, many individuals set their sights on being the next sporting success. We all know how much hard work, dedication, and talent it takes, but how long will it last? what are the chances of ‘making it’? and how much does it cost to set yourself up for a career in sport? We’ve taken six of the most popular sports in the UK and delved into the details to bring you the facts.

Top Facts:

Football, surprisingly, has some of the lowest costs when it comes to becoming a professional. This is due to the fact that most pathways to professionalism, talent dependent, are subsidised. These academies are willing to ‘invest’ in youth to help either their own team, or potentially sell these talented juniors on for much more than it cost to train and develop them. Southampton FC is one such club that consistently makes this system work for them.
The odds are tough in making it to UK football’s highest league. Out of every 1.5 million that attempt the feat, only 180 make it as Premier League Professionals, ,1396 as League Football Professionals and 3,664 as Semi-Professionals in Non-League.
The average wages in Football: Premier league – £50,000p/w, Championship £11,000p/w , League One – £2,300, League Two – £1,100.
If you become an international, then the figures skyrocket. The 23-man England World Cup squad’s weekly earnings adding up to a staggering £2,095,000.


The mean wage in the premiership is a pleasing £200,000. But this figure has been distorted by the few payers earning significantly high sums of money. The median wage of £70,000 is still a respectable figure and a healthy salary. As with most sports, when you leave the premiership there is a steep drop-off once you drop down a division as a Championship wage is between £15,000 & £25,000.
England also has the largest number of rugby players than any of the other six nations countries, so making your way into this squad just made itself that little bit harder.


Although there is a lot of money to be made, the cost of surviving on the top global golf tours is around £207,000 per year. This goes someway to understanding why sponsorship in Golf is so lucrative and fought after by each and every player.
There is no concrete evidence for our average career length, but looking at the constant turnover of Tour Cards shows that for the average professional golfer, like on tour is a tricky and slippery slope. It is clear that for those at the top of the game, the spoils are substantial, it is the falloff that makes it a dangerous sport to embark on.
Probabilities of making it as either a European PGA Tour Golfer – 0.025%, or a PGA Golfer – 0.16%.
Away from the tour, a comfortable living can be made by for Club Pro -£30,000, or a Head Pro – £54,000.


Despite its continuing efforts to make tennis a less elitist and more open, the average cost shows there is still a long way to go. Currently, there are only 27 UK professionals on Tour challenging to make a living from Tennis. Four of these players are in the Top 200. The probabilities are fairly bleak . There is 0.0032% chance of making it as a touring tennis professional. 0.00048% chance of being a Britain in the Top 200.


If you are looking to be a well-paid hockey player, it turns out Holland is probably your best bet. With some of the best players earning around 100,000 euros to ply their trade in the Dutch league.
While those on international duty will most likely earn well over £30,000 , a fond few even up to £1million, there are many hovering around the divisions barely scraping by in country cricket.
Equivalent Probabilities:

  1. Football: (0.012%) 3/25000 (Premier League Footballer) Being injured by a toilet or dying from an accident in the home. (More likely than matching 5 lottery numbers)
  2. Rugby: (0.036%) 9/25000 (Premiership Rugby Player) As likely as being injured by a mattress or a pillow (don’t ask me how!)
  3. Hockey: (0.28%) 1/2500 (Professional Hockey Player) Twice as likely to write a best-selling novel than be a professional hockey player
  4. Golf: (0.025%) 1/4000 (European PGA Tour Golfer) Slightly more likely than Leicester City winning the Premier League…. Wait a minute
  5. Cricket: (0.16%) 1/625 (Professional Cricket Player) As likely as being injured by a can, jar or bottle (Especially if Ben Stokes is about….)
  6. Tennis: (0.0032%) 1/31250 (Touring Tennis Professional) As likely as dying at work. (Hopefully if you’ve worked this hard you won’t die once you get there!)

Potential Earnings Compared to Average Wage

From 18 to 22 on £21,000 and 23- 31 on £27,000 that salary – £279,000. Earned from an average UK wage.
Formula = (average salary + cost of training 10 years) / average career length = Amount per year
To Earn enough during an average career in:
Football: £35,650 per year (£690 per week)
Rugby: £41,535 per year
Hockey: £41,535 per year
Cricket: £30,229 per year
Golf: £109,675 per year
Tennis: £49,896 per year

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