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Football And Big Money: What Some Professional Players In Ghana Told Us About Handling Their Finances

The Oasis Reporters

October 30, 2023








Football is among the largest employers in Ghana. Wikimedia Commons

Godfred Matthew Yaw Owusu, University of Ghana

Footballers are among the best paid sportsmen in most parts of the world.


The unfortunate reality, however, is that the retirement experiences of many former professional footballers have been awful. Within the sports media landscape, there have been reported cases of once-wealthy footballers who have gone bankrupt soon upon retirement. Notable examples in Ghana are former Black Stars players Sammy Adjei, John Naawu, Joe Odoi, Prince Addu Poku and Amusa Gbadamoshie.


According to some academics this unfortunate situation stems in part from the fact that the danger of falling into a professional void is high. This is because, like most sports, football confers skills that are not easily transferable to non-sporting occupations. The availability of jobs in football is also very limited. So most footballers earn a very high income during their active career period and face a high degree of income uncertainty upon retirement.


The lifestyle of footballers (during the active playing period and upon retirement) has also been highlighted by several reports as a key driver of the financial mess that some footballers have got themselves into.


Again, there have been reported cases of footballers engaging in irresponsible financial behaviour. Examples include gambling, spending on luxurious brands, lavish parties and generally maintaining an expensive and unsustainable lifestyle. A lack of financial knowledge has often been associated with this kind of financial behaviour.


I am a professor of accounting who, with others, has conducted a study to investigate the level of financial literacy of professional footballers in Ghana and ascertain its impact on their financial behaviour and financial wellbeing.


We found low levels of financial literacy, and poor financial behaviour, among footballers. The results suggest that to promote responsible financial behaviour among footballers, enhancing their financial literacy is key. We found very strong support for the argument that responsible financial behaviour, proxied in this study by savings and investment behaviour, is key to attaining financial wellness in life.


The study design


Financial literacy has been described as the ability to use the needed knowledge and skills to manage one’s financial resources effectively to improve welfare in the future.


Financial behaviour, on the other hand, can be described as the “ability to regulate planning, budgeting, checking, managing, controlling, searching and storing daily funds”. It covers spending and saving habits, borrowing patterns, budgeting and access to financial products.


Using questionnaires, we surveyed 300 footballers who competed in the 2020 Ghana Premier League.


The questionnaire had two sections: one on the demographic details of the respondents; the other on their financial literacy, financial behaviours and financial wellbeing.


Currently, the Ghana Premier League has 18 registered clubs. At the time of the study, these clubs employed 480 registered footballers. Compared with clubs in Europe, England, Asia and even many other parts of Africa, the net worth of Ghanaian clubs is very low. Revenues from international transfers – an important funding source for most Ghanaian clubs – have been very low over the years. For instance, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) in its 2021 report on international transfers recorded that Ghanaian football clubs together made a net profit of only US$50 million in the last decade.


Footballers’ finances


Our study revealed that the population of footballers was largely youthful. Nearly 90% were 30 years old or below, which is similar to footballers in other countries. This is expected as footballers are mostly active in their prime years. About 86% had some form of education, mainly up to senior high school level. The majority of the respondents were married and close to 58% of them had three or more dependants aside from their nuclear family. Thus, most of the footballers were providers for families although 39% said they lived with their parents or friends. On average, these footballers earned GHS2,000 net monthly income (US$177 at the time of the study), which, compared to other professionals, is low.


Overall, we found that the footballers had a low level of financial literacy. They ranked setting of long-term goals high but their interest in seeking financial knowledge was very low. It was therefore not surprising that most of the footballers seemed uncertain about where their money was spent.


We found that the footballers, generally, did not exhibit responsible financial behaviour. Very few had any interest in products such as bonds, stocks, mutual funds and insurance policies. But they seemed diligent in comparing prices when purchasing a product or service in a shop.


Interestingly, footballers were optimistic about their financial wellbeing. Most of those surveyed were confident in their capacity to meet current financial needs, had a very positive outlook on their future financing needs and made choices to enjoy life. The average footballer is always hopeful of securing lucrative contracts in future.


Better performance


Efforts to enhance the financial wellbeing of footballers can begin with investing in training programmes to make them financially literate. Second, football clubs can engage financial coaches to provide practical guidance to players during their active playing days to help shape their financial behaviour.


Given that financial wellbeing is closely associated with psychological wellbeing, such initiatives could have a positive effect on the performance of players on the field.The Conversation


Godfred Matthew Yaw Owusu, Professor of Accounting, University of Ghana


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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