D@&% this is expensive: Money & Club Soccer

Competitive soccer is a significant commitment.  In family time, service and most certainly money. Most families entering club soccer are often surprised at the degree of the financial commitment especially.

It is best to think about club soccer expenses like your car expenses.  There are fixed expenses, like financing and insurance.  But there are also variable charges that would depend on how much you drive, like gas, tires, oil changes, etc.  Club soccer has both fixed and variable expenses to you as well. And finally there are personal expenses related to how you want your car to look, how often you want it washed, etc.

The purpose of this blog is to explain to families where their money goes and why. The information in this article is true of most ANY club soccer organization.

Registration Fees or “Fixed Expenses

The largest portion of fixed expenses for clubs…like any business…is usually staff and facilities.

A paid, professional staff.

Youth soccer departs from many sports in that at the competitive level, coaches are required to be educated, certified, experienced, and are compensated for their services. Club soccer organizations pay their coaches a salary per year or per season.  These salaries range from $1500 per season for a younger coach with a lower license to $10,000 or more per season for a seasoned, highly licensed Division I college coach.  Experienced coaches can often coach more than one team effectively.

In addition, club directors can be part-time and/or full-time executives managing coaches, membership, and club operations.  These directors may coach a team or teams as well or just perform the executive function only.  Club directors usually have heavy club soccer experience, education, and experience competing at a high level and can make from $40-$80,000 per year or more. Many clubs will also have a paid part-time administrative staff.  This could be a single person or a staff of folks depending on a club’s budget and size.

Home sweet home.

Facilities in club soccer range from public park access to private facilities to high school stadiums.  Private and club-owned facilities bring significant expense, but better usage, location, and flexibility.  If your club has its own facilities, turf fields, and an indoor training facility…it probably won’t be cheap to play there.  If your club plays in public parks for nearly free, it can be cheaper or at least free up money to spend on other things.  But this could also mean one club is reinvesting in developing a high-end experience for kids and the other is just interested in keeping the doors open or anything in between. Club soccer organizations can pay from $40,000 to $200,000 or more annually just for access to facilities depending on the size of your club.  That’s pretty big money.

Other fixed expenses.

Insurance is a significant investment as clubs seek to protect their kids and their employees from various liabilities. Payroll Services, tax preparation, equipment, signage, professional services, field paint, and a whole host of other expenses round out the balance of these club fixed charges.

Team and other “Variable Expenses”

Each club soccer team chooses the tournaments they attend, plays a slightly different amount of league games, has a varying travel schedule, varying taste for team hotel choices, etc.  Other teams play in leagues that require more travel and greater league expenses.  Because of these highly variable expenses on a team by team basis, teams charge a “team assessment” that is in addition to the fixed costs of club registration.  This fee can range from $150 per season to younger teams competing locally to $800 per season or more for regional premier teams competing nationally.  The average is typically around $250 per season. So what’s included in this fee?  Primarily:

  • Coach travel expenses for mileage
  • Coach travel expenses for lodging
  • Coach travel expenses for meals
  • Tournament entry fees
  • Referee pay
  • In some clubs: Practice facilities
  • League registration fees (each club could have teams playing in one of 4 leagues depending on competition level.  Each league carries a different fee)

Extra expenses.

  • Uniform & Equipment: Most clubs order new uniforms every 2-3 years.  You can keep your uniform during that time.  If you are coming in new or have outgrown yours, most uniform kits run between $100-$150.  You will also be running through cleats, balls, shin guards as well.  Kids will want optional gear from the club (tshirts, warmups, bags, etc) throughout the year as well.
  • Your family’s travel: Going to tournaments carry a hotel expense as they are Friday through Sunday events. You will have gas, meals, entertainment while you are out of town.
  • League games are relatively local for “classic” level teams, while premier level teams usually travel regionally.
  • Winter futsal league play.  Don’t play walled soccer.  It’s fun…kids and parents love it…but futsal makes them better.
  • Summer camps: from $100 to $1000 or more.
  • ODP: Olympic Development Program – Usually $3-400 at the low level.  Can be $1000 or more.
  • Private Training: if your kid needs the work…and most kids do this at some point throughout the year. $2-500
  • Coach gifts for end of year: $100

The All-in.

Club soccer, regardless of club, can be an “all-in” expense of $1500-10,000 per year per child with the average being around $4000.  Payments are available in most clubs for the fixed expenses of registration and some teams/clubs offer payments for team assessment.  Unfortunately, most club soccer organizations are not overtly transparent about the total expense your family will be facing.  They may tell you what their registration fee is and gradually tell you about team assessment, uniforms, and other things throughout the year, so it is important you understand what you are entering into.

Club soccer certainly requires a higher level of commitment than most sports.  But there are few sports that are so focused on the kid’s development in the game by professional people. Further, club soccer players are almost exclusively the highly regarded players at the high school level and a virtual requirement for playing beyond high school.

So now the explanation is somewhat complete, what are the implications of this?  Hmmm.  More to come on that.

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