Former Aberdeen goalkeeper Derek Soutar has experienced the “sheer panic” of administration and hopes more Scottish footballers don’t have to go through it as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
With clubs’ finances impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, many are looking to cut costs.
The Dons, Hibs and another of Soutar’s former sides Dundee are among those to discuss wage cuts with staff.
The 39-year-old, who played for the Reds from 2006-2008, knows there will be some difficult conversations taking place at football clubs across the country, but hopes teams are able to survive.
During the first of two spells at Dundee, Soutar saw the devastating effects of administration at Dens Park in November 2003.
Soutar, who now works for Aberdeen-based Apex Industrial Chemicals, said: “I’ve been through administration with Dundee and a lot of football and non-football staff lost their jobs and that’s horrible to see and I hope because of Covid-19 that doesn’t happen at clubs.
“But clubs will have to look at ways of cutting costs.
“When it comes to administration, there’s just a sense of sheer panic, that’s the best way to describe it.
“Even if you get kept on, you still fear for your job because you know further cuts need to be made the and the club is financially struggling.
“Your first thought is that you’ve got a family to provide for and a mortgage to pay.
“People think footballers have a luxurious life, but unless you’re playing in the top league in England then you will panic.
“Players in the Scottish Premiership do get good wages, but the reality is most of them will live their lives to those earnings.
“The first time I was at Dundee, over a couple of months I took a 60% wage cut and it affects your mindset.
“If you’re having to deal with things like wage cuts and trying to train and play at the highest level, then it will be a struggle for players.”
Soutar knows from experience at his boyhood club Dundee that wage cuts are awkward topic to discuss in dressing rooms.
As a fan of the club he was determined to help the Dark Blues survive and he knows in the current climate there are players who will be doing all they can to help their clubs.
At Aberdeen, Jonny Hayes has deferred his wages for a year upon his return to Pittodrie.
Former Scotland Under-21 goalie Soutar added: “Of course it’s an awkward conversation for people to have.
“When it happened at Dundee, I had to speak to my wife and decide on what we could afford to take in terms of a cut.
“But, being brought up in Dundee, it never crossed my mind not to take a cut because if you have that passion for the club then you do everything you can to help the club as well as yourself.
“Jonny Hayes has signed for Aberdeen and deferred his wages for a year and that’s different class.
“The guy has clearly got a passion and affiliation for Aberdeen and wants to help the club.
“I know Jonny has had a good career and might have done well financially in his career, but it’s still a great gesture.
“At the other end of the scale, you’re going to get guys who are living month to month – can they afford it? I don’t know.
“It might be at some clubs a case of, if you don’t take the wage cut, the club will just terminate your contract.
“Then what do players do, do they forfeit their contract or take a cut they potentially can’t afford?
“It’s a horrible situation to be in and I think there will be a lot of hard conversations between clubs and players in the weeks ahead.”
When it comes to cuts, Soutar also believes there will be players at clubs during the current situation who won’t be keen on agreeing a reduced wage.
He said: “There’s players I’ve come across and I wouldn’t ever name names, but they think ‘why should we take a cut?’
“Having been in the situation, there are guys in the dressing room who don’t want to take cuts.
“I know in the current day there are guys in certain dressing rooms who will offer to take cuts because of how they feel about the club.
“But you also have other guys who have been brought to the club and maybe don’t have that the affinity for the club and will think: why should they take a wage cut? They’ve been offered a contract and think it should be honoured.
“That’s the unfortunate thing, there probably will be a few fallouts in changing rooms, but I think most of players will take cuts because they understand the situation and understand the impact on clubs.
“But there will be some guys that will hold their ground and want their full contract.”