As a first step for the many players attempting to break into the English football system, the National League offers a perfect balance between semi-pro and professional.
The fifth tier in English football has rapidly grown into a highly competitive division, packed full of former EFL stars and young prospects all searching for promotion into the Football League Two.
Alongside the challenging competition, players in the National League can pick up a good wage for what is considered a ‘semi-professional’ division.
But how much do National League players earn? And how does it compare to those in the English Football League?
Is National League Professional or Semi-Pro?
National League football is traditionally a semi-pro competition with the clubs who earn promotion from the league being rewarded with professional status in the English Football League – the Football League Two.
The definitive line between professional and semi-pro footballers in the National League has become a slightly grey area in recent years, as professional players from the EFL have transitioned to the National League due to the higher wages now available in ‘non-league’ football. As of 2022, several National League players are contracted to wages of over £2,000, the once average wage for a professional footballer in the Football League Two.
Are National Leagues North + South Professional?
Although the National League North and South divisions are regarded as semi-professional, a large majority of the leagues are filled with former professional teams and players from the EFL who now play in the National League due to relegation from higher divisions.
Average National League Salary
The average salary for a footballer in the National League is between £1,000-£1,500 with several players in the fifth tier of English football earning a weekly wage of £3,000 plus. This is slightly higher than the National League North and South average salaries which are roughly £500 per week.
How Much Do National League Players Make?
The weekly wage for National League players has increased greatly over the past decade with a vast majority of them earning upwards of £1,500. Wrexham’s Paul Mullin and Ben Tozer are the league’s highest earners, both earning £4,000 per week for the Welsh club.
Out of the top five highest earners in the league, Wrexham holds three of the spots with Tozer’s defensive partner Aaron Hayden sitting fourth on a £3,000 contract. Stockport County’s Paddy Madden and Antoni Sarcevic occupy the other two spots, with Madden earning a reported £3,500 a week while National League veteran Sarcevic is on a £3,000 contract.
National League vs Football League: Salaries
While the average National League footballer earns £1,000-£1,500, the average wage for players in the Football League Two is considerably higher at £2,500 per week.
The average team wage bill for a Football League Two club is also £30,000 per week, a significant increase from the average National League team wage bill which is between £18,000 – £22,000 in 2022. Average player wages have increased greatly since 2020 for both National and Football League players, rising at roughly twenty percent over a two-year period.