If you’re active on social media, you’ve almost certainly seen a controversial job advert placed by AFC Fylde. The National League North club are looking for a new General Manager to work alongside the Director of Football.

The Coasters are seeking someone with a proven track record in a similar role, who would be “focussed on the general day to day running of the non-footballing side of the club, the main emphasis will be on the commercial aspect of the role and developing the ‘Fylde Brand’”.

However, a paragraph further down the page is what has stirred the proverbial pot. This is what it said:

“This is a ‘hands on role’ and requires hands on leadership from the front so ‘delegators’ and ‘office dwellers’ please don’t apply. If not already apparent, we are not a Premiership Club and therefore every penny and every fan has to be fought for and respected. You will need to be proactive in your approach to everything. We work hard at Fylde so again don’t apply if you are looking for ‘a work life balance’ or have to pick the kids up from school twice a week at 3.30.”

The advert also specifies that the successful applicant will “need to live close to the club and immerse yourself in the local community at all levels” but doesn’t outline a potential salary; instead, candidates must disclose their salary expectations within their application.

There is a LOT to unpack there, even if you ignore the questionable punctuation and the reference to the ‘Premiership’ (England’s top league hasn’t been officially called that since 2007). The part about work / life balance – or, more accurately a potential lack of one – will ring alarm bells for virtually anyone who might be a high-quality candidate.

Another red flag is the reference to salary expectations. Not disclosing the potential salary available will put many people off applying and encourage anyone who is interested in working for AFC Fylde to ‘sell themselves short’ by telling the club they would work for less than their skills deserve, to avoid ‘pricing themselves out’ of the opportunity. That creates a ‘race to the bottom’ which might end up with the person who gets the job effectively being paid less than minimum wage.

After all, if the club’s new General Manager accepted a salary of £22,000 for a 40-hour contract, their hourly rate would nominally be £10.58, which is above the National Living Wage of £8.91 per hour. However, anyone who has worked in football will tell you that the real average number of hours worked per week is much higher. That would be especially true if the new General Manager was obliged to attend League games in Gloucester or Oxford; the journeys alone would wipe out the day. Let’s assume that for four of their five days, they only do two hours of overtime and when Saturday comes there’s a long-distance away match, which keeps them out and about from 9:00am to around 10:00pm. That would put that (hypothetical) working week at 53 hours. An employee on an annual salary of £22,000 who worked an average of 53 hours per week without overtime would have a real hourly rate of £7.98.

Still, at least Fylde are prepared to pay something. Birmingham City of the Championship are currently advertising for someone to work full-time within their Media & Marketing department… on an unpaid work placement! To be fair to the Blues, they will pay for a monthly West Midlands bus pass! They ask for ‘advanced editing skills’ and a willingness to work unsociable hours and on matchdays, but aren’t prepared to actually compensate the student they are hoping will take this role on. Contrast that with the £29.7million City spent on salaries – predominantly to players – during their 2019-20 financial year. 

The sad thing is that Fylde and Birmingham will probably fill both roles, because despite working conditions and salaries that are frequently awful, candidates see jobs like these as a ‘stepping stone’ to a better role in a relatively small industry. But whoever starts the project of developing the ‘Fylde Brand’ might find it got a little bit harder, just before they started work…