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 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:


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 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. 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: 

We also encourage you to follow:



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
from The Blizzard editor Jonathan Wilson
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  and you’ll find more detail about the other seven issues as soon as we can get it up on the website at – 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






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 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 or you can contact the FWA directly via Executive Secretary, Paul McCarthy (

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

Important notice – FOTY dinner postponed

The National Committee of the Football Writers’ Association has been in continuing discussions with the game’s authorities over the impact of the coronavirus.

Given the current suspension of all fixtures and the potential threat to our members, we have taken the decision to postpone the Footballer of the Year Dinner on Thursday May 14.

The Committee considered the health and safety of our members and their guests to be paramount plus the logistical impossibility of holding an awards dinner when the season may still be far from completion.

We will seek to rearrange the event but obviously will be governed by the football calendar and so no replacement date has yet been identified.

We would like to thank The Landmark hotel and general manager, Andrew Batchelor, for their understanding. Also our title sponsors, William Hill who have been supportive of any decisions taken.

Finally, we will continue the tradition of crowning the Footballer of the Year and Women’s Footballer of the Year and will provide details of voting procedures and timings at a later date.

Paul McCarthy

Executive Secretary

Manchester City’s Nikita Parris and Raheem Sterling with poses with both of their FWA Footballer of the Year awards alongside Chair of the FWA Carrie Brown during the 2019 Footballer of the Year Dinner at the Landmark Hotel, London.

Kevin Ball to collect award at NE FWA dinner

Former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball has joined the list of award-winners at a special football night later this month.
The North East Football Writers Association are to pay tribute to the Sunderland legend who has been player, caretaker manager and influential Academy coach for the club.
Ball, who made more than 350 appearances in nine years with the club and served twice as caretaker manager during his leading roles in the academy, will be recognised for his outstanding contribution to North East football.
The presentation of the John Fotheringham Award will be made at the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Player of the Year dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham on Sunday, February 23.
During the night, North East Football Writers Association player of the year Fabian Schar, the Newcastle United defender, will pick up his award and team-mate Sean Longstaff has won the NEFWA young player of the year. Durham Women FC’s Kathryn Hill is Women’s player of the year.
England and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton has been awarded the Sir Robson Robson Foundation/NEFWA Personality of the Year Award.
Ball was signed from Portsmouth by Denis Smith in 1990, player of the season the following year and a member of the FA Cup Final side which lost to Liverpool in 1992. Captain for Sunderland’s two Premier League title-winning promotions under Peter Reid, he was named player of the year again in 1997 in the top flight season.
He left in 1999 and after spells with Fulham and Burnley, returned to the Stadium of Light under Mick McCarthy, becoming an influential figure at the Academy of Light. He was also briefly in charge as caretaker after McCarthy’s departure and the steadying ship seven years later in the wake of Paolo Di Canio’s reign before Gus Poyet’s appointment.
Now employed in an ambassadorial role by the club, Ball was instrumental in the development of academy players, including England and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and his Three Lions team-mate Jordan Pickford, who is now Everton Number One.
Tickets are still available for the dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa in Durham on Sunday February 23, and further details are available from Claire Stephen on 0191 375 3080/

CHANGE OF DATE – NE FWA awards now Sunday Feb 23

Please note that the FWA’s North-East awards night has been put back to Sunday February 23rd at the Ramside Hall in Durham.

Originally scheduled for Feb 2, it has been put back to allow for the attendance of our winners.

More details of the event can be found here:

For details of tickets, at £58 including a three-course meal, contact Colin Young of the FWA or Claire Stephensat the Ramside Hall hotel on 0191 375 3080 or

Steph Houghton is NE FWA Personality of the Year

Steph Houghton will receive the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Personality of the Year trophy, which is given in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to recognise someone who uses their position in football to benefit the wider community.

The 31-year-old Manchester City captain, described by The Football Association as, “a role model in every sense,” will receive recognition for her off-the-field activities, which include official roles with the Professional Players Association, UEFA, The James Milner Foundation and the NSPCC.

She will also be recognised for campaigning to end period poverty and for her great commitment to The Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, a charity launched after her husband, Stephen Darby, was diagnosed with the disease in 2018.

Steph, who is from Durham, will be following in the footsteps of Alan Shearer, who received the North East Personality of the Year trophy last year.

It will be presented at the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards, sponsored by William Hill, which are held annually at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham to celebrate the best of North East football. The event will, once again, raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  PLEASE NOTE  CHANGE OF DATE TO SUNDAY FEBRUARY 23rd

Lady Elsie Robson said: “This is the sixth year we’ve helped the Football Writers’ Association choose a recipient for this award and Steph is the first woman to receive it. That seems very fitting given as she’s been such a pioneer in the women’s game.

“Steph has worked extremely hard to achieve her success and she’s also done so much to help others in that time. She’s a very worthy winner of this special award.”

In addition to the presentation to Steph, the North East Football Writers’ Association will be taking the opportunity at the awards night to pay tribute to the seven Lionesses who are from this region.

The chair of the Football Writers’ Association nationally, Carrie Brown, says: “In the week the Football Writers’ Association pays tribute to Vincent Kompany, it’s fitting we announce Steph Houghton as the winner of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Personality of the Year.

“The England and Manchester City captain can stand shoulder to shoulder with Kompany after leading club and country to unprecedented success in, arguably, the most important and influential decade in the history of the women’s game.

“Off the field, Steph has been an impeccable ambassador for the sport and the sport, in turn, has come out in support for Steph and her husband, former Liverpool player Stephen Darby.

“Stephen was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year and, with his close friend Chris Rimmer, has set-up the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation in hope of finding a cure for the disease.

“I am delighted the North East branch of the FWA has recognised Steph, and all seven players from the region who represented the Lionesses in France last summer.

“Congratulations also to Scottish international Kathryn Hill, whose imperious form in defence for Durham Women has won her the Women’s Player of the Year Award.

“The FWA looks forward to hosting what promises to be a wonderful night of celebration for the men’s and women’s game.”

Appointed England captain in 2014, Steph has appeared at two World Cups and two European Championships, as well as starring for Team GB at London 2012. She is the most recent player to earn a century of England caps.

At club level, her career began with Sunderland Ladies, before joining Leeds United Ladies, where she won an FA Women’s Cup medal, and then winning numerous honours with Arsenal.

Steph moved to Manchester City six years ago and has been instrumental in helping the club become one of the powerhouses of the women’s game, guiding her team to trophies in all three domestic competitions.

Other recipients of North East Football Writers’ Association awards this year include Men’s Player of the Year, Fabian Schar (Newcastle United), Young Player of the Year, Sean Longstaff (Newcastle United) and Womens’ Player of the Year, Kathryn Hill (Durham Women FC).

The previous winners of the North East Personality of the Year trophy, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, are:

• Alan Shearer
• Jermain Defoe
• Steve Harper
• Robbie Elliott
• Niall Quinn

Tickets for the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards are available from Claire Stephen at Ramside Hall Hotel (0191 375 3080 or

Vincent Kompany honoured on Gala Tribute Evening

Vincent Kompany said he was honoured and humbled to be the recipient of the FWA’s Tribute Award at The Savoy on Sunday January 12.

The former Manchester City and Belgium captain was our special guest at a star-studded event, and spoke eloquently about his career, his family and charity work. Accompanied by his father Pierre, he was joined on the top table by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, with whom Vincent has set up Tackle4MCR, a charity that helps the homeless and rough sleepers in the city.

Andy Burnham spoke in glowing terms about Vincent and his charity work, before FWA Chair Carrie Brown joined in with the praise, and handed over Vincent’s award.  He thanked the FWA, not only for his award but for our help in highlighting racism in football, and he called for more diversity in the game at all levels.

Vincent received a standing ovation, and spent hours afterwards mingling with guests.  Our thanks to Vincent and his colleagues for making it another special occasion, and thanks also to our sponsors William Hill for helping us stage the event.

There was sadness, too, as we remembered absent friends, and Paul McCarthy our executive secretary announced that the evening was dedicated to Steve Curry, our great friend, colleague and Life Member, who passed away in 2019. Steve’s widow Carol and son Mike were in attendance.

You can see our interview with Vincent here:

Thanks to Steve Paston of PA images for photography