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What Is A Semi-Pro Soccer Player/League? 

Not every player makes it to the professional leagues; whether it’s luck, talent, or accessibility, sometimes players simply fall by the wayside.

That doesn’t mean it’s over, though; players can still play the game they love at a lower level, and one of the most readily accessible routes into soccer is the semi-pro leagues. 

A semi-pro player is someone who plays in a league between the pro and the amateur leagues. They aren’t pro players, but also not amateurs, somewhere in between. They train just like pro players but aren’t paid as well or get the attention that the pro leagues receive.

As a semi-pro player, you could still be running out for your local team, keeping fit, and being part of a team. Very few players make it to the top divisions; for a start, there are only a finite number of places. 

A talented youth player that’s been injured could find a way back into soccer as a semi-pro player. A skilled soccer player who moved away from the sport after leaving school might find their love for the game reignited. The semi-pro leagues are thriving, and some players even make it out of there and into elite soccer. 

Leicester City and England striker Jamie Vardy was once a semi-professional player, working his way through into lower league soccer, before eventually being spotted by Leicester City. A Premier League title and an England call-up later, and Vardy is the dream scenario for many semi-pro players. 

League Standards And Expectations Are Lower 

The standard of play in a semi-pro league will inevitably be reasonably low; that doesn’t mean the players aren’t trying their best or the games aren’t incredibly exciting.

It just means that the skill level overall will be lower. Occasionally, a player will stand out as too good for the semi-pro scene and slowly move into a club operating as a full-time club. 

With lower standards comes lower expectations; nobody expects a semi-pro player to be a world-beater, though there are standards that are expected of players.

A certain level of fitness, professionalism, and maturity is desired, it makes teams work better if everyone is behaving, and even a semi-pro club can’t have players diving into tackles and injuring people. 

Contracts Are Easier To Get Out Of 

A Premier League player has a contract that’s set in stone and blood; they can’t simply walk away from a club because they’re unhappy. With their incredible wages and even more insane transfer fees, a pro soccer player is a commodity, an asset that can’t just be discarded. 

Semi-pro players in a semi-pro league haven’t got the same concerns; contracts are more a statement of what’s expected of a player. Many semi-pro players are paid to play; when they don’t play, they don’t get paid.

A contract that states a player will be on time, keep fit and healthy, and not do anything to embarrass themselves or their club, train with their teammates, and so on is there to keep players in line, not to keep them tied to their semi-pro club. 

Should a semi-pro player be offered a better contract by another club, they can usually simply move immediately. The better offer could be a guaranteed weekly income or better bonuses for appearances, goals, or clean sheets. 

The Huge Gap in Salaries 

The most apparent difference between a semi-pro player and a full professional is that the difference in salary is enormous. A good plumber will make a good living; a great plumber will make a fair bit more, but the difference between Premier League and semi-pro is calculated in the millions. 

Many semi-pro players play for the love of the game, the time spent with friends playing a game that’s part of their lives. The players might not do it for the money, which is good because there’s hardly any money in being a semi-pro player. 

A talented player can work their way through the leagues, so it’s not impossible to make an incredible living out of soccer; just ask Jamie Vardy. But for every Jamie Vardy out there, there are a thousand semi-pro players who are simply playing at the correct level. 

The Skill Level Is Much Lower 

A genuinely talented semi-pro player stands out from the crowd, but overall, the level of the league is relatively low. An excellent player might stay in the semi-pro league because they don’t want to devote their whole life to soccer. 

Not being able to train together every day will always impact how good a team can become, regardless of the players’ skills. Low expectations mean players can play with more freedom; crowds are small; it’s about doing your best rather than being the best. 

Semi-Pro Players Usually Have A Second Job 

One of the main reasons players in semi-pro leagues can’t devote their time to becoming superb soccer players is that they often, if not always, have a primary career that soccer has to fit around. 

If semi-pro players were making enough to live on, their skill level would undoubtedly improve massively, but that’s not going to happen, a player needs a full-time job to support themselves and their family. In the 1970s and 1980s, many professional players also had a job that had to fit around their soccer. 

Nottingham Forest and England captain Stuart Pearce was a professional soccer player, and an electrician on the side, as the player’s salaries at that time simply didn’t support a player’s family.

The weekly match program that was sold to fans as they entered the stadium had an advertisement inside offering Pearce’s electrical work, so fans could hire an England international to rewire their homes. 

It’s unthinkable in the modern era, but for semi-professional soccer players, the reality is that without making it into the full professional leagues, they’ll have to have another source of income. 

Semi-Pro Leagues Still Adhere To Soccer Rules 

One of the key points about being a semi-pro soccer player is that while the standards, salaries, and expectations, are much lower, the rules remain the same. A semi-pro league has a league table, promotion, and relegation dogfight and must adhere to the rules of the game. 

It’s three points for a win and one for a draw, and matches are 90 minutes long; a player can progress from amateur soccer into semi-professional soccer, and even all the way to the top division in their country, and know exactly what’s expected of them. 

An issue in semi-pro soccer is the tackling, with players not as fit or as well-trained, flying into tackles that can cause injuries to opposing players. Red cards, suspensions, and reprimands are commonplace; it’s easy for players to get injured and hard for them to recover without the proper facilities. 


Semi-professional soccer is a vital part of the soccer hierarchy; not only does it offer a route into soccer for players, but it also offers a way for players who may not have made the grade professionally a way to remain in soccer. 

A semi-pro player always has the chance of being able to improve their game and return to professional soccer, but for many, being a semi-pro is as far as they’ll ever go. And that’s fine; being a part of a team, trying to win games, and spending time with teammates, a semi-pro can hold down a full-time job and still play the game they love. 

As long as there are players who want to play soccer, the semi-pro leagues will prosper; there are more players available at the skill level required for semi-pro leagues than there are for the Premier League. While a player is still lacing up their soccer boots every weekend, there’s always hope that they can become the next Jamie Vardy.