SFC update Monday March 30

The Sports Freelancer Collective is continuing to explore all avenues with regards assistance for the many self employed who have lost income but who don’t qualify for the government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme. 

SFC is grateful for the pro-bono services of the accountant who has been answering the questions sent in via your feedback to Philippe Auclair. Please bear with us. Your feedback is also helping to steer us as we liaise with other organisations.

In the meantime we have assembled the resources below, which we hope are helpful in these difficult times.


Employment lawyer Safwan Afridi of Radcliffes LeBrasseur has very kindly offered to help those of you who may have questions about employment law free of charge. To do so, get in touch with him at Safwan.Afridi@rlb-law.com.


Niall McGinnity of Novem9 Ltd has very kindly offered his advice free of charge. Please send your queries to philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com


A mortgage broker has very kindly proposed his services to answer questions about mortgages free of charge. Queries to philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com


Hardships funds and emergency grants may be accessible via:

The Journalists Charity https://journalistscharity.org.uk/ 

The Authors Guild https://www.authorsguild.org/ 

The British Association of Journalists https://bajunion.org.uk/ 

National Union of Journalists: https://www.nuj.org.uk/work/nuj-extra/how-can-we-help-you/

Society of Authors: https://www.societyofauthors.org/Grants/contingency-funds 


Sports psychotherapist Gary Bloom is happy to speak to anyone via @bloomers57 or emailing info@sportsjournalists.co.uk


Important news for the self-employed

Alison Mitchell, Chair of the Cricket Writers’ Club, with some important news for freelancers and self-employed journalists and broadcasters:


“The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has this evening announced a Self-Employed Income Support scheme to help the self-employed who need it most. The Sport Freelancer Collective welcomes this significant move. The scheme is not perfect however, in particular excluding anyone who only recently went self-employed, and not providing support for all who are affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

We will be looking carefully at the details and we welcome feedback from our members across the spectrum of the Sports Media. Please email philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com putting SEIS in the subject line.

The Scheme

If you’re Self-Employed and your average annual profit over the last 3 years is £50,000 or less, you will be able to apply for a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits over that period, up to £2500/mth. This will be payable for at least 3 months, accessible in June, whereupon a backdated lump sum payment will be made. 

To qualify, you must 

– make the majority of your income from self-employment

– have filed a Tax Return for 2018/19

– have profits of £50k or less based on last 3yrs average

You can keep working and earning as a freelancer, even after accessing this support.

But I missed the January filing deadline for my 2018/19 Tax Return

If you get your tax return in within the next 4 weeks you’ll be eligible.

But I can’t wait for my payment until June?

The measures listed at the bottom of this page are expected to help with cashflow until the grant arrives, eg tax deferrals, mortgage deferrals.

What if my circumstances are complex?

There is a lot to learn about how all this applies to: 

1) Freelancers who earn income ‘PAYE employed for tax purposes’ 

2) Directors of Limited Companies 

3) Those who earn income from a combination of those sources


At the SFC, we’re not financial experts, so please speak to an accountant about your personal situation

Martin Lewis, founder of Money Saving Expert has done a special edition of his TV programme on ITV (available on catch-up). He is asking the Treasury some of these questions. 

See his summary here: https://twitter.com/MartinSLewis/status/1243490513413640193?s=20


Paul Lewis, presenter of BBC’s Moneybox on the News Channel, is available on iPlayer. 

What if I’m excluded?

The scheme excludes a lot of people, including those who earn profits above £50,000 and still have large bills and costs to meet, and in particular, those who only recently went self-employed. The measures available to help all self-employed are listed at the bottom of this page. Most are tax/payment deferrals (and the payments will always need to be paid eventually), with Universal Credit the only income scheme.

The Sport Freelancer Collective wants to hear your feedback on the situation as it stands. Please email philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com putting SEIS in the subject line.

We will keep up a pressing dialogue with those in authority. As it stands, there is no upper income floor for salaried employees who may be furloughed, with the government covering 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 per month. Note however that a furloughed employee CANNOT do any other work for their employer while their job is on hold; a self-employed person can receive support and still continue to earn where they can.

As a Sole Trader or Director of a Ltd Company, you run a business and will be eligible for the Business Interruption Loan Scheme. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/explainers-52005137 Again, this is a loan, to be paid back, it doesn’t make up for lost income.

Measures to support freelancers already announced include:

– access to Universal Credit to be paid at the rate of Statutory Sick Pay £94.25/week, and suspension of the minimum income floor

– deferral of Self-Assessment income tax from July 2020 to January 2021

– deferral of this quarter’s VAT payments to June 2020

(Remember all taxes will still need to be paid, just at a later date, alongside the other taxes that will be due at that time)

– deferral of mortgage payments by 3 months (be aware your mortgage payments may then be higher when you do resume payments, depending on your arrangements) 

– Renters have been helped with £1bn of support, increasing housing benefit and Universal Credit so that Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in an area 

– Some local authorities are offering deferral of Council Tax payments. Do check your Council’s website.

All details here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

We also encourage you to follow:

IPSE https://www.ipse.co.uk/

NUJ https://www.nuj.org.uk/home/

Freelance writing opportunities from TriNorth


In light of the ongoing situation, the people who work at TriNorth Communications, the sports media agency which produces The Blizzard, the Nightwatchman, Wisden Cricket Monthly and Gridiron magazines, have decided they would like to do their bit for the freelance community.

Here is a tremendous opportunity outlined by Matt Thacker, of TriNorth.  We are indebted to them for their generosity and initiative:

“At TriNorth, we are all lucky enough to have full-time jobs. Like everybody else, we can’t guarantee for how long, but we are aware of the even more precarious nature of freelance life around the world at the moment and it did not take much persuading for our staff to agree to foregoing a significant element of their salaries for the next few months and possibly beyond so that we could set up a fund to support freelancers. We are all aware of the importance of freelancers to our products, of the friendships we have built with them, of the feeling of kinship we share with them.

We have therefore, slightly counter-intuitively in a world where everything seems to be scaling back, decided to introduce two new digital magazines, the Pinch Hitter, in association with the Nightwatchman, and The Squall, the unruly younger sibling to The Blizzard.

The former, which will appear approximately fortnightly starting from 3 April, will initially be funded by TriNorth’s salary sacrifices; the latter (planned at eight issues over 12 months starting in May) by the incredibly generous gestures from contributors to the Blizzard, led by editor Jonathan Wilson. Between them, the 65 writers who contributed pieces to, or spoke at events for, The Blizzard in the 2019-20 period, have waived over £5,500 and counting of fees, meaning we can start commissioning with confidence.

It will not be possible to fund the products in this way forever of course (the intention at this stage is for both products to have a lifespan of as long as the current situation lasts) and we will therefore also put both magazines on sale on a pay-what-you-can basis. The more support we can get for this from the freelance community in terms of promotion, the better. And we have today set up two bank accounts – one for each magazine – so that we can ensure all revenues generated will be reinvested into these magazines. If they turn into something that people want to keep going, and that benefit the freelance community, then we’d be delighted.

You’ll find more about the two products and how to pitch to contribute to them at the end of this statement.

We are aware that a package is on its way for freelancers and first signs are that it looks promising. But we are also aware that there are plenty of freelancers out there – writers, photographers, videographers, illustrators, podcasters – who will find the measures do not help them out of the hole they are in right now. And we know that these government measures, when they do come in, will be for those working in the UK. Our freelancers span the globe and not all are being offered such a package. Furthermore, we know that the current situation is not just about money. It is about doing your job, taking pride in turning a sentence, taking a great photo, telling a great story, getting that game-changing interview. Pride in your work, producing the finished product – the psychological impact is huge. Mental health is never to be treated lightly, but especially not now. We want to give freelancers a platform to strut their stuff, to play their shots.

As with anything we do, there will be a fairly rigorous quality control process involved – the content produced has to be good and the magazines have to be engaging for people to read.

So please send in your submissions, ideas and suggestions and hopefully we’ll be able to make a small difference. Our intention is to pay pretty much on submission, even if that submission is for three or four magazines down the line. This won’t always be possible but the more cash we can generate from the general public, the quicker we can pay, the more freelancers we can use, and the better the rates we can offer.”


Matt Thacker matt@trinorth.co.uk
from The Blizzard editor Jonathan Wilson thesquall@trinorth.co.uk
The Squall will be (a lot) shorter than The Blizzard but (a lot) longer than The Flurry (our newsletter). It will be 11 pieces of between 500 and 2500 words on a selected theme (so a total of 15-20,000 words). Our first issue (May; deadline 15 April) will be on the theme of The Right-Back. Feel free to interpret that as freely as you like. Pitch on individual right-backs, great or small; on the changing nature of the role; on best goals by right-backs; worst fouls by right-backs; right-backs in film or song; clubs who’ve had a run or great or terrible right-backs… be as creative as you can. If you’re a photographer, perhaps you have a series of pictures of one particular right-back, or maybe a series of different right-backs taking throw-ins? As ever with Blizzard products, be inventive and original, find details, devise theories, be funny, don’t be constrained by what we’ve seen before. 
The address for pitching to Jonathan is thesquall@trinorth.co.uk  and you’ll find more detail about the other seven issues as soon as we can get it up on the website at http://www.theblizzard.co.uk – get your pitches (and submissions) in early. At the moment as potential themes, we’re looking at: Brits Abroad; Kits; the Printed Word; Animals; Oedipus; Grounds; Sliding Doors; Short-Lived Tournaments and Reserves but that may change. If you’ve got a decent idea for them, let us know.
Meanwhile The Blizzard will continue to run as usual, coming out in June (deadline 10 April), September (10 July), December (10 October). They tend not to be tightly themed, so pitch any ideas you have. The original idea with The Blizzard was that it should be for those pieces you’d always dreamed of writing but had never had the opportunity – something that you know about and nobody else does. Don’t think of this as a regular job – in almost a decade we’ve had more than 300 contributors because it should be the one thing that’s been burning away, that you feel you have to write.
Previously we always paid a percentage of profit at the end of our tax year. That both seemed fair – everybody benefited proportionally to what they’d done – and also allowed us to start up without any outside investment or worrying too much about advertising revenues. However, we realise in the present circumstances that’s not ideal for struggling freelancers, so for The Blizzard we’ll start paying a flat rate of £105/1000 published words (rounded to nearest 500) on publication of each issue. If it’s possible to increase that over time, we will.


Football Book of the Year longlist announced

The 12 titles chosen by the FWA for the longlist of the Football Book of the Year award have been revealed. The FWA books committee has chosen the 12 titles below and congratulate the authors.  They will be further reduced to a shortlist for the final award, which is due to be held at Lord’s Cricket Ground in September, along with other Sports Books of the Year.

Sponsored by CLOC Printing, the Football Book of the Year is one of 10 Telegraph Sports Book Awards categories. The directors of the Telegraph Sports Book Awards have made the regrettable decision to postpone this year’s shortlist and winners events, but are pleased to announce they will take place later in the year, with a September date soon to be confirmed for the annual winners’ ceremony at Lords Cricket Ground.

Carrie Dunn’s superb deep-dive into the changing face of Women’s Football, The Pride of the Lionesses, looks beyond the headlines, reflecting on growth at grass roots level, as well as that of the professional game. Tobias Jones delves into a facet of Italian footballs subculture, examining the sinister side of footballing fandom in Ultra. Daniel Fieldsend’s Local looks at Liverpudlians uniquely intertwined relationship with both the City of Liverpool and their beloved football club.

Jonathan Wilson’s excellently researched assessment of how Hungarian football in the 1950’s shaped the modern game, The Names Heard Long Ago, is up against Michael Cox’s Zonal Marking, an insightful overview of tactical development in European football over the last three decades. Leo Moynihan’s The Three Kings tracks the life and careers of three of the greatest ever managers, Stein, Shankly & Busby, undoubtedly the central architects of the modern game. The tactical theme continues with Pep’s City, Spanish journalists Pol Ballus & Lu Martins’ behind the scenes profiling of Pep Guardiola’s success at Manchester City. David Tossell’s Natural, makes the longlist with a revealing and comprehensive biography of a past superstar, one England’s most loved footballers, Jimmy Greaves.

Steven Scragg pays homage to the European Cup Winners Cup with Frozen In Time, charting its distinct history through the unique, eccentric stories it created. Amy Raphael’s, A Game of Two Halves, pairs football’s superstars with their celebrity superfans, resulting in plenty of funny conversations and revealing some uplifting commonalities. Completing the shortlist are Stephen O’Donnell’s brutally honest account of the rise and fall of Rangers FC, Tangled Up In Blue, and John Nicolson’s Can We Have Our Football Back?, a polemic against the premier league, including a passionate pitch for an alternative future.

David Willis, Chairman of the Telegraph Sports Book Awards said: ‘We are delighted to be announcing the Football Writers’ Association Book of the Year Long List and working in partnership with CLOC Printing for the first time, and honoured to continue an excellent relationship with the highly esteemed Football Writers’ Association.’

Philippe Auclair, Chair of the Football Writers Association Books Committee, commented: “One of the most striking features of this longlist is the sheer variety of the selected titles, which shows how football writing continues broadening its horizons from year to year. In this regard, this season’s crop is probably the most diverse and the richest in the award’s history, with twelve outstanding books dealing with a huge range of interests – from biography to sociology, tactical analysis to history, polemic and politics to women’s football, to name a few. “

The winners of the 2020 Sports Book of the Year Awards will be announced at a gala awards dinner to take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground in September, with the exact date to be confirmed shortly.

Alongside CLOC Printing, The Telegraph Sports Book of the Year Awards partners include VAARU Cycles, Pinsent Masons, Sky Sports, Tim Rice’s The Heartaches & The National Literacy Trust. The final short lists for the 2020 Sports Book of the Year Awards will be announced at a reception in Pinsent Masons London Headquarters. As with the main ceremony, we have regrettably decided to postpone the original May date, and will confirm the rescheduling as soon as possible.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Categories 2020:

Autobiography of the Year

International Autobiography of the Year

Biography of the Year

Children’s Sports Book of the Year

Cricket Book of the Year

Football Book of the Year

Cycling Book of the Year

Illustrated Book of the Year

General Outstanding Sports Writing Award

Rugby Book of the Year

For more information about The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020, visit http://sportsbookawards.com/









Sports Freelance Collective Update March 20

Alison Mitchell, Chair of the Cricket Writers’ Club, comments on the announcement on Friday by Chancellor of the Exchequer of new measures to boost the UK workforce:

“On Friday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the government will pay 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 per month. The measures for self-employed freelancers, however, still don’t go far enough.

Today the government has recognised our letter and assured us that they know freelancers have been hit. We will continue to liaise with the government and push for the measures we need, and keep you all updated. The Sports Freelancer Collective will consult over the weekend and discuss where we would like to see changes and how today’s measures will help or impact freelancers.

Measures to support freelancers now include:

  1. Access to Universal Credit to be paid at the rate of Statutory Sick Pay of £94.25 per week and a suspension of the minimum income floor- deferral of Self-Assessment income tax from July 2020 to January 2021
  2. Deferral of this quarter’s VAT payments to June 2020 (Remember all taxes will still need to be paid, just at a later date, alongside the other taxes that will be due at that time)
  3. Renters have been helped with £1bn of support, increasing housing benefit and Universal Credit so that Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in an area
  4. Anyone can seek to defer their mortgage payments by 3 months (be aware your mortgage payments may then be higher when you do resume payments, depending on your arrangements)

There is a lot to unpick about how some of this will apply, particularly to those freelancers who are part ‘PAYE employed for tax purposes’ and part self-employed.”

In the meantime, all details are outlined here:  https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

And here are some useful articles: 




Alison Mitchell

Broadcaster and Journalist

NUJ support Sports Freelancer Collective

The National Union of Journalists has joined calls for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to put in place a specific support package for the self-employed while the country faces a period of self-isolation and quarantine measures. About a third (8,000) of National Union of Journalists members are freelance and the proportion has been increasing. Please send an email to freelanceoffice@nuj.org.uk  and let them know what’s happening to you.

The government should implement an immediate Universal Basic Income trial for all UK residents to ensure home and food security through the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis, to support the needs of those that need to self-isolate as well as the public health at large, and the wider economy.


Philippe Auclair reports that employment lawyer Safwan Afridi of Radcliffes LeBrasseur has very kindly, and very generously, volunteered to help those of you who may have questions about employment law free of charge.

To do so, get in touch with him at Safwan.Afridi@rlb-law.com

Call to action from Sports Freelancers Collective

A note to our members and freelancers.

For the first time in seven decades, the FWA has formed a coalition with the Sports Journalists’ Association, The Cricket Writers’ Club,  The Rugby Union Writers’ Association, The Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association, British Athletics Writers’ Association, The Black Collective of Media in Sport, Sports Media LGBT and the Basketball Journalists’ Association

We have joined forces to protect the thousands of freelancers who have been locked out of the industry due to the coronavirus pandemic and now face economic ruin.

The coalition has formed quickly following the mass cancellation of sporting events around the world, and welcomes all sports media organisations to join us.

Today we’ve called on the Government to help our members whose industry has been entirely shut down. Specifically we have demanded that Boris Johnson should:

1. Follow the lead of Germany and Canada and provide compensation or a base salary for freelance workers.

2. Request that HMRC defer its date to collect payments on account, currently due on the 31st of July 2020, until December 2020 as a minimum, and to review this at a later stage.

3. Call for IR35 to be abolished

4. Include our members who fall ill during this pandemic in receiving statutory sick pay for the time of their illness.

5. Address the shortfall of support for the majority in the private rental sector, by organising the deferment of rental payments until all supporters and workers are allowed back into fully open sporting stadia.

We will update you with the progress of this unprecedented but necessary move to protect the welfare of our friends and members in sport.

Visit this page for the latest update: http://footballwriters.co.uk/news/sports-freelancer-collective-latest/

Sports Freelancers Collective latest

IN these difficult times, the FWA has joined forces with the Sports Journalists’ Association https://www.sportsjournalists.co.uk/ and other bodies to support freelance journalists and related small businesses that are badly affected by the current shutdown in sport.

Philippe Auclair is overseeing things from the FWA’s point of view and will post regularly here in order to keep you updated with what support there is: philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com

Here is his latest advice following the Chancellor’s announcements on March 17

A very quick update on the IR35 situation, which I know is affecting many of you. The ‘good’ news is that the reforms will be delayed by a year. See https://www.cityam.com/ir35-reforms-to-be-delayed-for-a-year-due-to-coronavirus/ for more details. I was contacted earlier today by a mortgage broker who very kindly proposed his services to elucidate any questions those of us who have a mortgage would like to ask. So please let me know which topics you’d like him to address. He already recommended having a look here in order to have an idea of where we were at at the moment. https://bit.ly/2IUGUrZ

A reminder of how you can contact the new HMRC coronavirus hotline, which was specifically set up for small businesses and self-employed people: https://bit.ly/3dfcUoT
 Last, allow me take this opportunity (with apologies to those of you who’ve already been sent a similar message) to invite those of you who are not yet members of the FWA to join the association. Given the circumstances which we find ourselves in, the FWA has decided to waive its normal fee (£30 p/a) and to welcome new members for free. To join the FWA, simply follow this link: http://footballwriters.co.uk/membership/ Membership renewal charges by standing order will only be applied from 1 September and not 1 June as usual.
 Keep safe, keep together
FWA Coordinator
Sports Freelancers Collective

Invaluable advice from Gary Bloom

Gary Bloom is a leading psychotherapist working with Oxford United football club, a journalist and host of the award-winning therapy show ‘On the sporting couch’ on talkSPORT.

Gary took to social media this week to support freelancers and is also working with the Football Writers’ Association to pass on his advice to our industry and especially freelancers facing worrying times.

Below are his absolute key pieces of advice.  Please, please follow these top four religiously. 

1 DON’T PANIC! Easy to say but essential. The part of this brain which brings in the panic can guide your day, you need to take control of this and the below strategies will help.

2 TALK, via phone, via facetime whichever way. Vocally talking through your problems directly links to your brain and well being. It’s incredibly DANGEROUS not to talk to people and air your concerns.

3 LOOK AFTER YOUR HEALTH and well-being. Movement, diet, routine, staying hydrated, engaging with friends are all invaluable.

4 REMEMBER you are talented and good at what you do. You work in one of the most competitive industries. Congratulations! You are at the top of your game and this means your skills are TRANSFERABLE. There will be a lot of news to cover in the coming months. You are writers, broadcasters and journalists and you are not limited to writing solely about sport.

Please all read over the below points.

Important! If you are feeling severe depression or anxiety and fear the worst please contact the Calm helpline 0800 58 58 58 immediately or carriebrowninbox@gmail.com and I will direct you to Gary who has kindly offered his support.

1.Don’t panic. There’s an area of the brain (Limbic) that’s sounding alarm bells right now. Take a deep breath, get a notepad and think.

2. Live events have been cancelled and you can forget about them for the time being. But magazines and radio/TV stations and papers are going to have a lot of spare copy to fill. That is an opportunity for you.

3. Sport isn’t the only thing you know about. If you can write/take photos/broadcast on sport, what else could you write about/take photos of?

4 Talk to loved ones about your fears. They will diminish. Try find a counsellor near you. I’d recommend the counselling directory website.

5. Speak to your commissioning producer. He or she may know of other opportunities inside the organisation.

6. Look after yourself. Good diet, regular exercise and good sleep will go along way to reduce anxiety.

7. Use this period to review the quality of your work. Get a colleague to critique your work. Learn more about yourself and how you work. In psychotherapy this is supervision

8. Remember this is temporary. Look back at this period and say ‘actually it’s allowed me to visit parents/friends/love ones/improve the house or garden’ Do something!

9. Freelance journalists have to be bloody good or they go hungry. Remember you’re bloody good. Be in the psychological challenger state (let’s go) rather than the threat state (this is going to be awful)

Good luck and stay well



The National Committee of the Football Writers’ Association is acutely aware that in this unparalleled climate of uncertainty, so many of our members will be facing an incredibly testing time.

Freelance journalists, whose work and opportunities have dried up immediately with the suspension of all professional football until April, make up a large percentage of our membership and these are obviously worrying times for them.

With that having been brought into sharp focus in the past 24 hours, the FWA has contacted several MPs who have pledged to highlight the plight of the self-employed, including freelance journalists, and who have serious concerns about the measures taken to protect both rights and incomes.

Our chair, Carrie Brown, has already made representations on behalf of those members potentially affected and Carrie will continue to follow-up to add the FWA’s voice to what is becoming an insistence the Government put in protective measures.

We have also set up a working group under the leadership of National Committee member, Philippe Auclair. The intention is to formally constitute a group of freelance writers and broadcasters in order to provide a focal point for affected journalists to turn to in these unique circumstances.

Philippe would like to gain the views and input of as many journalist as possible, both members and non-members and can be contacted at  philippe.auclair.fwa@gmail.com or you can contact the FWA directly via Executive Secretary, Paul McCarthy (paul@maccamedia.co.uk).

It is impossible to predict what will happen next in football and our industry but we pledge to offer support and advice wherever possible so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

National Committee

Football Writers’ Association