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Aaron Brown thought he was in for a great football adventure when he joined Maltese Premier League club Floriana FC in the summer of 2012. His choice brought the English professional footballer nothing but misery.

 

On Malta, the life of a professional footballer can be very rough. Although some clubs are quite punctual payers (as should be the standard), there are also numerous clubs who do not respect their players' contracts and refuse to pay them on time. Approximately up to 80 professional footballers in the Maltese Premier League have not received their full salary. FIFPro highlights the case of Aaron Brown, one of those unfortunate players.

 

Aaron Brown is a 29-year old defender, who had been under contract at many English clubs such as Reading, Bournemouth, Yeovil Town, Aldershot Town, Stockport County and Preston North End. Last summer, when his latest contract ran out, he received an offer to join Floriana FC, a Maltese Premier League side.

 

‘In August, I was contacted by Mark Wright, their new manager. He told me about the great life in Malta, about getting paid tax free, about the great club I would join and promises of the new English management. It all sounded like a great opportunity,’ Brown recalls. He signed a one-year deal.

 

It wasn’t great.

 

‘I was lied to virtually from the very start,' Brown says. ‘We had to share a house with four guys. I had been told that I would get a place of my own, as were the others.’

 

Floriana FC management also had a problem paying its players. ‘We were supposed to be paid at the end of each month. But by the first week of September I still hadn't received my money for the month of August.’

 

When he signed, Brown was told that he would be paid tax free. That proved to be incorrect. ‘Midway through September, I got three weeks’ salary instead of six weeks’, Brown continues. It was the only money he received from Floriana. 'Since then, I have not received anything else: not at the end of September, October or November.’

 

‘I chased the owners and they told me they would pay me on Friday. On Friday they told me it would be Monday. And on Monday they told me I would be paid next Friday… It was broken promise after broken promise.’

 

‘I left halfway through December.’

 

Brown wasn’t the only foreign player who did not get paid: his teammates who also arrived from England - Amam Verma and Akanni-Sunday Wasiu - faced the same problems.

 

‘The Maltese players also had trouble getting paid, but their situation was less problematic as they had jobs on the side. For us it was more serious, as we were totally dependent on our football income. We all have families to support, Amam and Sunday both have kids…’

 

After consulting the Maltese professional footballers association MFPA, Brown agreed to terminate his contract. In Malta, a player has the legal right to terminate his contract when he has not been paid for two months. Floriana FC agreed to pay Brown and the other players the money they were due until the 17th of December. The players would receive their money in two payments, in December and January.

 

‘Nothing came. I didn't even get a phone call’, says Brown.

 

Though Floriana refused to pay Brown and the other players, they were still able to bring in five new players in November and January, as well as a new coach.

 

Meanwhile, Brown has returned to England. ‘I am trying to stay fit, but it has been hard to find a new club. I had some offers from Conference clubs, but they didn't have much money.’

 

Neither does Brown. Since August he has only received three weeks' salary, instead of the 4 ½ months he was promised.

 

Brown might be a professional footballer, but he is not a millionaire. He is a modest pro, who has played for modest clubs, and earned modest wages. He does not have a savings account stacked with millions…

 

‘Life is very hard at the moment. This situation has messed me up.’

 

‘I have a family to support. I have my mortgage to pay. I have a bank and other bills to pay. I worry about losing my house. I have to borrow money from people, because I need to eat and live…’

 

‘I cannot live off the promises made by Floriana. They should pay what they owe me and other people.’

 

 

Aaron Brown signs at Floriana FC, next to him then manager Mark Wright