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For top-flight athletes, football is a lucrative occupation. When retirement comes, many don't need to carry on working. Yet the work ethic instilled in them as players propel many of them onwards, pushing them to earn a living in unique and varied ways. Below, we discuss the ways players can make money after their playing days are over.  

Licensing their name and image

 If they are a player of note, then it is likely brands will want to be associated with them. There are a wealth of industries that will pay to use the likeness and name of a player on their products. These can range from anything from sportswear to household goods. A perfect case study of an athlete making crazy money from this was boxing legend George Forman, who put his name on a kitchen grilling machine. In its second year of sales, the machine made $200 million in profit and he was reported to have taken around 40% of this.  

Stadium with fans at Volksparkstadion, Sylvesterallee, Hamburg, Deutschland

More new ways to license an image are arriving by the year. The gaming industry has long licensed images for use in its titles, but a new rapidly developing market is the casual gaming industry. Cristiano Ronaldo recently launched his own free-to-play mobile game. Online casinos are also part of this revolution. The best new slot sites are very competitive and to bring in new customers will use familiar brands and licenses to attract customers. One athlete who has already done this is Frankie Dettori, who has lent his image and likeness to a horse racing-themed slot game.  

Brand advertising 

Advertising a brand is different to licensing. Licensing is when a product is created with your name and likeness on it. When advertising, you simply endorse the product by appearing in its marketing campaigns. David Beckham is a master at blending the two, advertising clothing and luxury goods while licensing his name to products like cologne.  

The options for sports stars to advertise are plentiful. At the bottom level, they can do voiceovers for radio. This can then develop into mid-tier adverts and huge billboard campaigns.  

Management and coaching 

Once you are a player, you should know the game inside and out. Thus, it makes sense that a move to management or coaching would be a smooth one. Plenty of players have made this transition, with many becoming the greatest managers of all time. However, it is not for everyone. Management and coaching require a very specific personality type and a thick skin. In many ways, it can involve more pressure than playing on the pitch.   

Soccer coaches discuss tactics

Working in the media 

Working in the media is a viable way for athletes to use their expertise in a new position. Television pundits are the most obvious route here. However, places are few and often taken up by established personalities. Match of the Day and Sky do not have to be the only solution though. Local radio stations and even the ability to host your podcasts which can later be monetised are alternate avenues.  

Some people take their media route in a different direction, choosing to follow paths that have nothing to do with sports at all. Look at former Coventry striker Dion Dublin, who now fronts shows on property renovation.  

A final route and one that has sprung to popularity in the last ten years is reality television. From I’m a Celebrity to Strictly Come Dancing, ex-sports stars are in demand. While they are not long-term viable careers, they do offer lucrative one-off payments. If these competitions are won, then it can lead to plenty of other work. Look at the winners of I’m a Celeb, who usually go on to bigger television jobs and advertising roles.  

How likely is it that players keep on working and earning? 

Most people would assume these paths are available to many top-flight players. While studies have not been conducted in the UK, in the US at least, studies show the picture is not as rosy as it may seem. Despite having an extremely high level of income, many players fail to use this to set up new ventures or keep themselves going. Two years after retirement around 78% of former NFL players are bankrupt or are jobless. After five years, the figure goes down to 60%.  

This is no reflection on top-flight players in the Premier League. The average wage of an NFL player per annum is $80,000, much less than we see in big European leagues. However, lower-waged players may suffer the same fate and it may be time for a full study to take place. As the world of streaming entertainment and gaming continues to grow, the opportunities for ex-players and bound to continue and industry help and guidance would be welcomed. Generally, the future does look bright for those involved in sport.

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