Chief Executive reveals what the average Super League player gets paid

There’s a strong assumption among fans that becoming a professional sportsman is the sign someone has made it in life and that from that point onwards a person can be set for life.

Whilst in sports like football that can be true it’s not the same case in rugby league, as one current Super League CEO has explained.

Karl Fitzpatrick is CEO at Warrington Wolves and he spoke with the Growth Hub, a business podcast, about his moves in the sport of rugby league where he transitioned from player to volunteer to eventually the role he is currently in, whilst also revealing some insightful figures on player salaries.

Explaining that as a Wigan-born lad all he cared about as a youngster was rugby league he revealed the tribulations many young players go through of signing on at a young age, Widnes as a 14-year-old in his case, before eventually falling out of the game.

It was one pre-season where he offered to train for free that’s what got his foot in the door and eventually forged his career in the sport, revealing his first contract was for £7,000 a year.

Whilst Fitzpatrick didn’t have the illustrious career that others may have, he still had a passion to be involved in the sport after retiring in 2010, and he expressed again the concept of simply getting his foot in the door.

He went to Tony Smith offering his services at Warrington for free, detailing the player focused role he undertook and letting slip the wages most players earn in the sport.

“A role become available on the administration side becoming the player welfare manager, so looking after players away from the game, transitioning from Australia, any mental health support and also preparing them for roles after the sport.

“It is really challenging, we don’t earn the levels of salaries that footballers earn but nevertheless, it’s a good salary.

“The average Super League salary is £74,000 per year, which don’t get me wrong is a great salary, but it can’t sustain a lifestyle once you’ve finished playing.

“Couple that with the fact that adulation soon goes and you’re soon forgotten about, so the RFL have been pioneers in this space in preparing players for life after playing rugby league.”

That figure of £74,000 as an average, whilst impressive for the every day job is a salary that stops aged 35-40, as opposed to the standard 60-65.

It also pales in comparison to the minimum salary in the NRL which is listed at $150,000 or at current conversion rates, approximately £90,000, something that England captain Sam Tomkins was keen to highlight this week.

From then on as Fitzpatrick explained his foot was in the door and he knew he could make the difference, and from there he detailed his journey to where he finds himself now, in the top job.

Player welfare manager was my first paid role, I think my first salary was £15,000 – a bit more than my first playing contract at £7,000! But once I got my foot in the door I knew what I could bring to the organisation.

“I became team manager so looking after logistics, that progressed again to head of rugby operations which is not dissimilar to a director of rugby role. I then returned to university again to get an MBA.

“But, once I was on this path at Warrington I had aims to be a chief executive and then, in 2017, the board appointed me as chief executive.”

That then happened in 2017 and Fitzpatrick now heads into the 2023 season looking to turn around the fortunes of 2022.

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Kenneth Spencer
Kenneth Spencer
1 month ago

wonder what Fitz earns now ?