Sportsmen must plan ahead or retire in poverty

I was saddened to read an article recently about a footballer who had squandered his fortune and lost everything he had "played" so hard for.

I was saddened to read an article recently about a footballer who had squandered his fortune and lost everything he had "played" so hard for.

Some sportsmen have made good plans and invested for their futures, but unfortunately many have done very little. You only have to go back to the 1966 Soccer World Cup winners and other sporting icons who have had to sell their medals and other memorabilia to make ends meet.

The prime earning years of a sports star are between 18 and 35 with the exception of golfers. Sporting professionals sacrifice much to achieve their sporting dreams. Unfortunately, when the playing years are over, the high earnings either come to an end or reduce considerably. Obviously, there are a few branded super celebrities who earn a high income from endorsements.

It is during their playing years that sportsmen have to plan for their entire life. Whereas most people have a window period of about 40 years to save for retirement, sportsmen have a much shorter time. As a result of time constraints in their careers, their financial and personal planning requires extra special attention.

There are a number of factors to consider and plan for if you are either a manager or a parent of a sports person, or if you are a professional sportsman yourself.

1. Ensure that you have adequate cover in case of accident or injury. This is the reality of most sports, especially those where contact is involved. Don't always rely on your club or an international sporting body that you play for to provide cover because it may not always be enough.

2. Save and invest for that period when you would cease to play, about age 35, until you would retire, say at age 65. You would need to provide for yourself and your family for an extra 30 years before retirement age.

3. I am a strong advocate of having some other career to fall back on, which may require some form of part-time study or apprenticeship, or correspondence course which could be undertaken during the time that you play sport, or shortly afterwards.

The majority of sports people only have a 15-20 year career to plan and invest for retirement, while others have most of their working lives.

For a youngster entering the game, especially in football, the huge packages and vast sums that they earn make one's head swim. Often the first spending that comes to mind is fast cars, smart homes and spoiling loved ones. The credo is often "live for today". This is all fair and well, but make sure that you get the best of both worlds by ensuring that you plan for your future as well.

l The writer is a director of Pioneer Financial Planning. Visit or e-mail