Passing Combinations

UEFA A Licence Coach, Tim Wareing, operates his Academy in Belfast. The ex Academy Director of Irish League side, Lisburn Distillery, shares his latest elite session with The Soccer Store. All the equipment that Tim uses can be purchased direct from The Soccer Store.  The focus this week is on passing.

It's a pet hate of mine that with some coaches the first they do at training is send their players for a run as they arrive.  I want my players good on the ball & enjoying the sessions so the first thing they see is the ball.  Below is a typical warm up with the ball.  I delivered this to my younger group at the academy aged from 6-10.

Warm Up With Ball

Warm Up With Ball


Dribbling warm up with the ball with series of turns & movements.


All players have a ball & dribble inside a 30 x 30 yard area.


All players dribble around the grid with their ball attacking space. Players should listen to the instructions called by the coach. Encourage players to attack space, use different fakes, moves & turns.


  1. Players exchange balls with each other.
  2. Stop their ball & take another one.
  3. Stop their ball, jump in the air (while calling their name) & take another one.
  4. Stop their ball, touch the ground with both hands, then take another one.
  5. Stop the ball, roll it back with the sole of the foot, then take another one.
  6. Stop the ball, sit down, get up quickly & take another one.
  7. Stop the ball & take another one away at pace.
  8. Stop the ball, jump & shoulder charge the opponent, then take their ball.
  9. Stop the ball, jockey back three steps, then take another one.
  10. Stop the ball, run to touch the other ball, then run back to their own.

Add more as you please.


  • Dribbling skills.
  • Close ball control.
  • Lots of touches, left & right foot.
  • Head up.
  • Turns & change of direction.
  • Awareness.
  • Attack space.
  • Speed.

The main focus of the session today was passing.  Although I generally don't like boring drills I introduce a gate for a target that the players must make accurate passes for the ball to go through.  For a bit of fun you could play a game of 'donkey' that if a player makes an wayward pass they receive a letter.  Adds a little competition & helps keep players focus.

Passing / Receiving Through Targets

Passing / Receiving Through Targets


Passing accuracy.


One ball between two players.  Players should face each other 5-10 yards away from each other with a mini gate set up in the middle.  The gate should be approx a yard wide.


X1 passes to X2 through the gate placed in between the players.  X2 controls the ball & passes it back through the gates to X1.  Players count how many passes go through the gates successfully in the time limit.


  1. Condition passing foot.
  2. Players have to control with the left & play with right foot & vice versa.
  3. Reduce time.
  4. Increase the distance.
  5. If players miss a gate - there score returns to zero - keep count.


  • Use inside of the foot.
  • Lock ankle square to the target.
  • On toes to receive a pass - move into line with the ball.
  • Communication - call partners name.
  • Try to be quick but maintain accuracy.
  • Help partner with straight passes.

I soon progressed the session so that players had to think how they received the ball along with shifting the ball.  This encouraged a good open body & worked on first touch as well as changing the angle of their pass.

Passing / Receiving Through Targets 2

Passing / Receiving Through Targets 2


Passing accuracy & shifting the angle of the ball.


One ball between two players.  Players should face each other 5-10 yards away from each other with a mini gate set up in the middle.  The gate should be approx a yard wide.


X1 passes to X2 through the gate placed in between the players.  X2 takes the ball to the outside of the right foot & plays back down side of markers to X1.  X1 keeps playing the ball through the centre cones.  X2 uses alternate feet & plays back down alternative sides - reverse roles.


  1. Players then use the inside of the foot & take the ball across the body.  Use disguise before making a move & playing the ball back to a partner.
  2. Reduce time.
  3. Increase the distance.


  • Use markers as a defender.
  • Take the ball out of the feet & make crisp passes back.
  • On toes to receive a pass - move into line with the ball.
  • Communication - call partners name.
  • Throw a dummy / disguise movement.
  • Quick change of feet after a dummy to make a quicker return pass.
  • Look up before passing.

As I wanted the session to become more game realistic & offer more freedom for the players we took away the cones & used the open pitch.  We simply encouraged them to take up positions to receive the ball & form a triangle shape in groups of 3.  I was that encouraged on how they performed we then operated the session open play.  Basically we had 12 players & 4 balls on the go.  It was great to see how well they carried this out!

Combination Play

Combination Play


Combination passing.


Players spread out over half a pitch.  1 ball between 3 players.


Players begin with playing any combination of passes to each other & moving anywhere through the half of the field.


  1. 1 player must now play a series of give-and-go with the other 2 players.
  2. Once a player has performed a give-and-go, 1 of the other players does a takeover (1 play dribbles the ball toward another player & then leaves the ball for the other player to take.)  This will alternate the passer each time.
  3. Players make the following combinations; short pass, long pass, take-over.
  4. Finish with players being given free roles & allowing to make / receive a pass from anyone.


  • Communication & understanding.
  • Players should use 1 or 2 touches only & use both feet.
  • Speed of play.
  • Quality passing, weight & accuracy.

As always it is important to keep that theme throughout.  We finished with the 5 Goal Game so that players were awarded points for dribbling & passing through target gates.  There was also bonus points on offer for passing combinations.

5 Goal Game

5 Goal Game


Possession & combination game focusing on changing the point of attack.


2 equal teams play on half a pitch.  5 mini goals / gates are set up within the area using poles or dome cones.

You can adapt the size of the area & the amount of mini goals set up to suit your group.


Teams combine to score a point through dribbling through the gates, passing through the gates or score a bonus point by playing a 1-2 / give-&-go through the gates.

Players are not allowed to score back-to-back goals in the same gate.


  1. Add more mini goals / gates.
  2. Colour code certain gates, i.e. gates on the wing to encourage good width.


  • Good first touch.
  • Quality passing.
  • Movement & work rate on / off ball.
  • Don't force it through gate, look to open up & switch.
  • Always receive ball side on.
  • Awareness.
  • Communication.

This was a nice session.  The players really enjoyed it & it offered progressions that challenged the players.  We have some terrific little talents that have a hunger to learn & carried everything out so well.  Let us know how you get on with your squad.

Guest Blog by Matthew Nickels on IFA CPD in Association with Seaview Enterprises

Matthew Nickels is a coach with TW Sports & attended a CPD event organised by the IFA in association with Seaview Enterprises.  Below he shares his notes from what was discussed in the morning session.  The event took place at Seaview, home of Crusaders FC.


Nigel Best opened by discussing the evolution of Grassroots football.  His central focus was on comparisons with the same on the continent.  The most prominent countries he mentioned were Spain, France & Portugal, as they have continuously generated high quality players over a sustained period.  Belgium was also mentioned based on the players generated in the current 19-22 age bracket.

Observations from a study visit were given.  At 4 clubs visited, that were not even top flight clubs, each had their own 4G pitch provided by the local council, free of charge. This was used by all their age groups, 4 times a week, with each age group having 2 outfield coaches & a goalkeeping coach.

With rates of £60 plus per hour for similar facilities here this is not possible.  The IFA are encouraging effective coaching to maximise the limited contact time, & Pascal is developing the new Youth Certificate.  Nigel believes the Youth certificate is degraded by coaches refusing to do anything non UEFA.

The current level 1 is also being revised due to concerns over how technique is coached.  Age specific methods of coaching technique will be included in future courses.

In study visits games are attended.  This is an important part of learning systems of play.  On a TV screen you can only see where the ball is, however, when at a live game you can also see what is happening where the ball is not.

Nigel concluded the introduction with comparisons between a development coach & competitive coach.  He asked those present which they were, or indeed if they were a bit of both, but warned suppressing the competitive coaching element was difficult & important.

What technical aspects are increasing/ decreasing in top level football?

More of…

-          Fast Transitions/ breaks

o   Arsenal selection of players influenced by speed over 30m.  When defending there is usually only 1 left forward.  Success in transition depends on speed of support.

-          Combination Play

o   Barcelona often look like they are going nowhere with 1 touch passes.  However this draws the opposition and they then exploit the space created.

-          Screener

o   1 or 2

-          Match Intensity/ Tempo

o   Coaching better technique provides players the ability to take in more visual cues & therefore make better decisions.

o   Analogy given of driving a car.  When a learner you have to look at the gearstick, the pedals & even the wheel.  You can’t take in the information the mirrors are giving you.  After practice this is not required & you can even monitor your mirrors subconsciously.  4 sources of information, constantly updated without focus.

-          1 Striker

o   Coach single striker roles, don’t expect to deal with being marked by 2 defenders

-          Defending 4-5-1

-          Attacking 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1

-          Tactical Flexibility

o   Coach player understanding of roles

o   Prepare multiple systems

-          Middle to front attackers

o   How do you mark between the lines

-          Long Diagonals

o   Now an important technique for a modern CB

-          Technical Quality

o   Technique on its own is not sufficient, application of technique under pressure is what makes it game relevant.


Less of…

-          Back 3

-          Sweepers

-          Man to Man Markers

-          Less Space (make quicker decisions based on less time)

-          Predictable movement (i.e. running straight lines up channels)

-          Defenders on the posts

-          Set Play Frequency

-          Twin Striker Play

-          Less Offside Decisions (deeper defending)

o   Coach centre forwards to play behind the defenders

§  Out of sight

§  Creates further space for midfielders

§  1 yard head start when attacking in wide positions

-          Advanced Pressing

o   Triggers

o   Pressure high up the pitch is for Barcelona only.  Their interplay is short, they are always compact.  When they lose the ball in the final third there are 4 or 5 players to press collectively early.  This is difficult to replicate in other styles of play.

-          Long Ball Back to Front

o   Described how some centre backs will mark channel side to intercept, with their partner covering the goal side.

-          Rigid 4-4-2

-          Comebacks after conceding first goal

-          Midfield schemer

Transition (counter attack)

-          First Pass Forward

-          4 types;

o   Classic - back 3rd to front quickly to 1 or 2 attackers

o   Collective - regain in midfield area & group attack with 4 to 5 players

o   Advanced - retrieving ball high up & a few attackers exploit

o   Solo - individual creates by running from around half way line

-          Fast break Principles;

o   DEFENDING - disorganised; space behind; low numbers; square passes

o   ATTACKING - interception; reaction time


§  Trigger - i.e. clearance, interception

·         6 seconds to exploit

§  Transfer - running; passing; combinations

§  Target - Shot

-          Counter the counter attack

o   Quickly reform

§  Midfield at half

§  Defence around 25 yards from goal

o   Press Ball

o   Midfield Screener

o   Defending Deep

o   Technical Fouls



-          Don’t just coach a player to look, what they see is what is important.

Possession With A Focus On Width

UEFA A Licence Coach, Tim Wareing, operates his Academy in Belfast.  The ex Academy Director of Irish League side, Lisburn Distillery, shares his latest elite session with The Soccer Store.  All the equipment that Tim uses can be purchased direct from The Soccer Store.

As soon as the players report in for training they each get a football.  The first 10 minutes is for them to juggle the ball, dribble & perform skills.  It also offers time for them to catch up with team mates.  The Academy is open to all players & many will play for different clubs across Northern Ireland.  After this period I will come in & increase the tempo.  On Sunday I put them through the 'Ronaldo 7' which is a series of 7 skills performed stationary with the ball.  We then played a game of 'Every Man For Themselves'.  Simply half the boys will have balls to dribble & protect while the other half attempt to steal & keep.  This insures maximum exposure with the ball & increases the tempo.  After some stretches & water the players went through S.A.Q. (Speed, Agility & Quickness training using speed ladder, hurdles & hoops) before I progressed the session.

I wanted to keep the high tempo but at the same time recreate game like scenarios.  The below session comes from the outspoken Dutch man, Raymond Verheijen, who is a master on periodisation training.  Many of my sessions will focus on possession type games.

5 V 2 Periodisation Game

5 v 2 Periodisation Game


Ball possession based around periodisation.  Overload then build up to 5 v 5.


Session takes place on a 20 x 20 yard area.  5 attackers v 2 defenders.  Have 3 players waiting to be fed into session to build up to 5 v 5.  The coach should have a supply of balls to keep the game moving.


Simple possession game where players develop their skills of passing & supporting each other.  Players in possession should try to pass to teammates.

Simple, early passes should be delivered & after having delivered the pass, players should adjust their positions so as to receive a return pass if necessary.

The team that starts with 2 players receive an additional player every 30 seconds.  The coach lets them know when to join in every 30 seconds as follows;

0.00 - 5 v 2 (2 touch)

0.30 - 5 v 3 (3 touch)

1.00 - 5 v 4

1.30 - 5 v 5


  1. Set target of passes to be awarded a goal.
  2. One / two touch play.
  3. Add target players on the outside of the grid.
  4. Rotate groups to suit squad size, i.e. 3 groups of 5, work 2 & rest 1.


  • Movement on / off ball.
  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Create angles.
  • Protect ball.
  • Communication.
  • Quality passing.
  • Positioning.
  • Passing combinations.

Another important factor to remember is to keep a similar theme to your session so you build it up nicely & each session relates to the last one.  To develop I focused on a session I viewed from Arsenal Football Club.  This starts to add a bit more shape & encourages the central players to be the playmakers linking in with the wall players.  You can offer an opportunity for all players to sample each role or if you have an established team or working with an adult team simply play each player in their position.

Arsenal's 6 V 4 + 2

Arsenal's 6 v 4 + 2


Keep ball game with play makers linking with wall players.


Session takes place in a 30 x 25 yard grid with a supply of balls on the outside.

Full build up with 12 players involved.  Positional game with 6 outfield players, 2 midfielders in the middle against the 4 defenders, represents a real game-like environment.


6 wall players look to keep the ball through linking with the floaters (play makers) in the middle.

Encourage your players to think about the set up.  From the bottom of the diagram to the top you can see the basic formation of left back, centre back & right back.  In front of them left & right winger with forward at the top...playmaker / centre midfielders working to link all in the middle.

Keep score.  1 point for 5 successful passes, bonus 2 points for a split pass made between the defenders & 5 bonus points for a nutmeg.

Likewise, if the defenders win the ball they get a point.  If they keep it for 5 successful passes in the middle they get a bonus point & the same points for a nutmeg!


  1. Change players roles throughout.
  2. Limit outside players to 2 touch.
  3. Floaters in middle only allowed 1 touch.
  4. Change scoring system.


  • Work rate on / off ball.
  • Movement on / off ball.
  • Communication.
  • Quality passing.
  • Passing combination.
  • Use the whole area.
  • Shape.
  • Positioning.
  • Losing the defender.
  • Receiving the ball side on.
  • Defenders should stay compact - play in a diamond shape.  They should play pressure, 2 support players & a cover man (sweeper).

The goal of my session was to build into a game.  The game below works perfect as it keeps the theme of possession going but encourages width.  As always don't get too caught up in the training game.  For example, although you want to encourage the ball to go wide if the ball is played through the centre encourage the forward player to have an attempt at goal rather than always going wide to the winger.

Wingers Game

Wingers Game


Encouraging attacking play through the wings.


Play takes place on half a pitch with 2 full size goals & goalkeepers.  A channel is marked out with cones on either wing & separated in two.  Also divide the pitch in two.

Play 3 v 2 in either half (+ goalkeeper).  4 wide players are positioned in the channels, 2 playing in the attacking half for each team.


The objective is to play the ball from the back, where the 3 defenders should have comfortable possession against the 2 attackers.

The ball should be played to one of the forwards who passes wide to one of the unmarked wingers.  The cross is then delivered to the 2 forwards who look to finish at goal.


  1. A defender can join the attack along with the other winger being allowed to leave their zone & come into the central area.
  2. Change roles.


  • Quality of crosses.
  • Movement of forwards.
  • Movement - check run, make space in front to receive.
  • Technique - stop just before receiving the ball.
  • Strength - shield the ball from the defender.
  • Awareness.
  • Quality passing.
  • Timing of run.
  • Quality finishing.
  • Communication.

The football played was terrific.  I always allow the players their own time at the end to play a game with no restrictions.  It was encouraging to see the main points we worked on carried out.  Some of the football was a joy to watch.

Another important factor is to be flexible in your sessions.  I had no goalkeepers present so used 4 mini goals (2 either end) & positioned them 5 yards in from each touchline.  This again reinforced width & switching.  Likewise adapt to suit the players you have in.  Although the above game is based on 14 outfield players I only had 12 present.  I simply played with 1 wide player on each wing who played as a neutral player.

Enjoy the session & let us know how you found it!

How To Coach Toddler Soccer

Clubs are dropping their entry age while English Academy set ups are starting to look at children younger & younger through fear on missing out on the next 'big talent'.  For those working with toddlers, or if you prefer, under 6's you need to remember the most important factor & that is fun.  This is children's first introduction to football & the most important aspect is for them to fall in love with the game.  As a coach you need to adapt, lose your inhibition & become an entertainer!

3 years into kicking off my football development programme I was unique.  Not just as I welcomed children in from the age of 5 (most other clubs / organisations were 6-8 year old) but I then introduced a revolutionary way of introducing young children to football from the age of 2.  Call it vision or call it fluke but the programme simply came about from younger brothers & sisters being disappointed that they couldn't play football when they dropped their older brother or sister off to our Mini Soccer sessions.

With this in mind I started to plan sessions for younger children & called it 'Toddler Soccer'.  My first port of call was Google to see what advice was out there to work with such young children.  I didn't find very much.  So I went about planning a programme using the first set of kids as guinea pigs to see what worked & what didn't.

Ronaldo & Messi vs Toy Story & Finding Nemo!

One thing that was obvious to me with children aged 7 & above that they were motivated with pro players...Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney & co.  But children aged 2, 3 & 4...what would they be motivated in...who did they look up to?  Well, with having children of my own I only had to look at what they watched on TV, who they talked about.  I soon came to the conclusion that if I used familiar children's television programmes we would be on to a winner.

We have children as young as 2 dribbling the ball close to them so Dr. Evil Porkchop doesn't steal their ball.  We have them dressing up with crazy cones for ears & heading the ball as Mr & Mrs Potato head.  We have them checking their shoulders looking out for coach, mummy or daddy trying to steal their ball & the fun factor of them roaring like Rex the dinosaur!  We have fun passing exercise of them being Nemo & knocking down the mini traffic cones...or should I say rocks at the bottom of the sea bed before Bruce the Shark catches them!

Over the past number of years I have written a book on the topic as I have received requests from all over the world regarding my programme.  To date the book has sold in over 25 different countries!  Below I will share with you some of my hints, tips & games for you to try out with your young kids!

How do I start?

Toddler SoccerWhen working with a group, get the toddlers to sit in a circle.  Ensure that adults kneel down with toddlers so that you are speaking to them at their level.  Always start with introductions e.g. ‘I’m Coach Tim & this is Coach Ronnie’ as they may have forgotten your name or be a new member.

Relax & build a relationship with them.  Ask what kind of week they have had.  What did they do at nursery?  Comment on new shoes or T-shirts.  If they think that you are interested in their lives they will be more inclined to work with you.

Finally, do a simple listening game so that everyone gets ‘tuned in’.  Do silly things such as getting them to put their hand behind their ear & tuning in to Coach Tim FM!  Another idea is the ‘Stop, freeze’ game.  Toddlers run about & then freeze when the whistle is blown.

Now introduce the game you are going to do.  Keep instructions short & make sure everyone can hear & see you.  Always ask if everyone understands & repeat if necessary.

Coaching Style.

It is best to be vocal.  Tell the story so that each child can visualize what is happening.  Use different tones to tell the story.  Make each session an adventure!

To get the toddlers to interact, start a sentence but get them to finish it.  When you are kneeling down & they are sitting on their ball listening, then begin the story.  ‘Ok, we are in the jungle today & we are Diego & Dora.  Our ball is the little monkey from Dora the Explorer…what’s his name?’  They reply ‘BOOTS!’  It is great to have the toddlers join in & give feedback, then you know that they are fully engaged.  I once had nearly 50 passers-by stop to see what the heck was going on!

Always demonstrate.  Make your language child-friendly & break skills right down.  Don’t stand & demonstrate a skill such as a drag back to the toddlers as you would to ten year olds.  Paint the picture instead.  Ask them to imagine that the ball is a puppy & he wants to roll over & have his tummy tickled.  Can we put our foot on him & roll him backwards?

Get a more able toddler to demonstrate a skill as this will encourage his peers to have a go when they see that someone of their own age can do it.  Give lots of praise.  Be vocal & use the ‘high five’!

Lose your inhibitions!

This is of prime importance.  Forget about parents & passers-by watching you.  Get down to the toddlers level.  Kneel down to speak to them, use funny voices & pull funny faces.  Bring these sessions to life!  Remember, the coach who leads the programme will determine how successful it is.

Try to get inside the toddler’s head & use as a starting point what they like to see, hear & do.  Those who have children should find easy as they will be up to date with the cartoons they like to watch.  But do not rule out young coaches.  I find that they can relate well to kids.

An example of a silly thing to do with the toddlers is to turn a small traffic cone upside down & place a ball on top of it.  Then tell the toddlers ‘Well done!  Now have a big ice cream.’  Add to the fun by making funny noises while squirting pretend strawberry sauce on the top of the ‘ice cream’!  We also put discs (small cones) on top of our ears to look silly & pretend to have supersonic hearing!

My session notes…

This is a great warm up game & so simple for young children to follow.

Body Parts

Body Parts


Session on ball familiarity.


Use cones to mark out a 25 x 25 yard area. All players have a ball & stay inside the area.


Players start by dribbling the ball around the area. The coach will call out different body parts. The player must respond by stopping the ball with that body part, e.g. right foot, ear, chest, knee, etc.


  1. Add extra fun by getting them do 'disco dance' like mum & dad by giving quick commands like, 'right knee, left knee, right knee, left knee, right foot, left foot,'. They could also clap their hands at the same time.
  2. When they get their chest on the ball get them to put their right arm out & pretend to fly like Super Man!


  • Keep the ball close to your feet, take light touches.
  • Keep the head up & look for space.

You can progress the session to a fun game featuring their favourite Disney movie or cartoon characters!

Roary The Racing Car

Roary the Racing Car


Dribbling, skills & turns.


Session takes place in a 20 x 20 yard grid.  All players have a ball each.


All players are racing car drivers & the ball is Roary the Racing Car or another character from the show.

Encourage players to 'drive' (dribble) around the race track (grid).  They must keep their race car (ball) under control.  Encourage use of both feet.

Introduce different skills & turns.  Players perform toe taps to start their engines.  To drive around the 'chicane' they perform the scissors.  To reverse they perform the drag back.

Also add in fun extras that toddlers love.  If anyone is in their way get them to beep their horn.  Or ask them to put their lights on when it is getting dark, simply make a small twist with your hand & a funny noise to switch them on.  Or if it rains they must put their wind screen wipers on waving their arms.

Use your imagination & have some fun!


  1. Introduce mini gates by using cones.  Players must dribble through all the different mini gates.
  2. Use cones for traffic lights.  Red = stop, orange = get ready / start engine, Green = GO!  Get players to get their heads up & watch the signals.
  3. Introduce different speeds like granny speed (slow), mummy & daddy speed (fast) & Roary the Racing Car speed (super fast).
  4. Add more traffic signals.


  • Good dribbling skills.
  • Use of both feet.
  • Keep head up.
  • Skills.

You can order my Toddler Soccer The Essential Guide Book direct from The Soccer Store.  For a free taster just visit; www.ToddlerSoccer.Org/book

Money in Football

From Roman Abramovich arriving at Chelsea FC to Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour the sugar daddy's seem to have let transfer fees, player wages & ticket prices spiral out of control.  In English football how far away is the riches of  the Premier League from lower leagues?  Will UEFA's new Financial Fair Play regulation bring an end to the crazy money being passed about & will football ever be the same again?

As money in football increases so does each individual player's salary.  Although along with the rich club owners it is the normal football fan helping fund the game.  Gone are the days that you could go to a top flight game at an affordable price along with picking up a match day scarf, programme & pie.  In today's game the cost of a ticket for a top flight game can be in access of £70.  This is for a normal seat - no VIP hospitality...for that you will pay well over £300!  Then we have the mega stores.  To purchase the latest full kit along with name, number & Premier League logo we could be talking £70, & that is only in a child size.  This is before you enter the ground for the over priced food & drink.  Although let's concentrate of player wages in the Premier League.

Premier League Wage

It is believed that one player in the Premier League at a top club can earn up £1.5 million a year.  Comparing this to over 5 seasons previous you will find the highest paid player received approximately £650,000.  Premier League players on average will receive £780,000 per year.  If you compare this other industries you will be shocked.  A nurse will receive £23,500 per year, a teacher £30,000 per year...Wayne Rooney?  £250,000 per week!  His 2012 earnings were £17.2 million!  This shows not only how much a week he earns with his wages but extras through bonuses, sponsorship & player image rights!

Top to the Bottom

So the average Premier League wage is £22,000 a week...before bonuses!  Or if you like, £1.16 million a year.  Compare this to the average Championship player who receives £4,050 per week (£211,000 per year).  This is a fifth of a difference for playing one league down!  Dropping down to league 2 you will find the average weekly wage is £750 which is 30 times smaller than those in the Premier League!

All good managers talk about needing a strong spine in their team.  So whose the top earners as we strengthen our team down the middle?  The manager at the top of the wage chart is the man who keeps his house in good order, Arsene Wenger.  He earns £115,000 per week.  The top shot stopper is Peter Cech from Chelsea earning £96,000 per week.  Not to be outdone his team mate, John Terry, earns £130,000 playing centre back.  Manchester City purchased midfielder Yaya Toure from Barcelona in 2010 for £24 million & offered him a weekly salary of £190,000.  But across the city at United Wayne Rooney finds himself leader of the strikers receiving £250,000 per week!  Despite being in a world recession top Premier League players earnings have went up more than 200% since 2000.  Is it time for a salary cap?

While Football league clubs research has revealed 72 clubs from the Championship, League 1 & League 2 have racked up a combined debt of £2 billion.  We have all witnessed the demise of Portsmouth FC going into administration so UEFA's new Financial Fair Play Model needs to be adhered too.

Wealthy Owners

The Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich, is a Russian business tycoon.  Russia's 5th & the world's 50th richest person he is estimated to be worth £8.4 billion.  When he arrived at Chelsea money was made available for transfers, & plenty of it.  When Shevchenko arrived for £30 million Chelsea's end of year showed a loss of £140 million in June 2005.  By the end of June 2006 this was down to £80 million.

Manchester City owner, Sheikh Mansour, has an estimated wealth of £17 billion but a family fortune of at least $1 trillion US dollars.  He completely wiped Manchester City's debts of £305 million on arrival.  From September 2008 approximately £300 million has been spent on transfers.  By year ending May 2009 there was a loss of £92.5 million.


The Financial Fair Play regulations want clubs to live within their means & was first introduced during season 2011/2012.  Failure to do so could mean disqualification from European competition.

The concept has also been supported by the entire football family, with its principal objectives being:

• to introduce more discipline and rationality in club football finances;
• to decrease pressure on salaries and transfer fees and limit inflationary effect;
• to encourage clubs to compete with(in) their revenues;
• to encourage long-term investments in the youth sector & infrastructure;
• to protect the long-term viability of European club football;
• to ensure clubs settle their liabilities on a timely basis.

These approved objectives reflect the view that UEFA has a duty to consider the systemic environment of European club football in which individual clubs compete, & in particular the wider inflationary impact of clubs' spending on salaries & transfer fees.

In recent seasons, many clubs have reported repeated, & worsening, financial losses. The wider economic situation has created difficult market conditions for clubs in Europe, & this can have a negative impact on revenue generation & creates additional challenges for clubs in respect of the availability of financing & day-to-day operations. Many clubs have experienced liquidity shortfalls, leading for instance to delayed payments to other clubs, employees & social/tax authorities.

Therefore, as requested by the football family, & in consultation with the football family, UEFA is introducing sensible & achievable measures to realise these goals.  They include an obligation for clubs, over a period of time, to balance their books or break even.  Under the concept, clubs cannot repeatedly spend more than their generated revenues, & clubs will be obliged to meet all their transfer & employee payment commitments at all times.  Higher-risk clubs that fail certain indicators will also be required to provide budgets detailing their strategic plans. (from

This should help clubs compete on a more level playing field.  It should also stop the investors finding loopholes, for example, selling advertising boards for £100 million!

The Magic of Football

Although the top 4 in England used to be a contest between Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal & Liverpool the millions have brought Manchester City into this bracket.   We have also seen Tottenham Hotspur challenge for a place in the top 4 in recent seasons.

But one thing will never change & that is the magic of the FA Cup.  Most recently Premier League side Liverpool visited struggling League 1 side, Oldham Athletic.  The cash strapped League 1 side dumped the Premier League stars out the FA Cup!

I have just received some great coaching equipment from & will be sharing my notes & record the session that I'll take with my academy side. Check back for my next post that will include all my notes!

« Previous Entries Next Entries »