Clarke Carlisle: First UK gay footballer can expect a ‘commercial windfall’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), has told Inside Sport that the first English footballer to reveal that he is gay can expect to receive a commercial windfall from doing so.

The York City FC player has added to recent comments made to the Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GSFN), when he revealed he had been engaged in discussions with eight gay players.

“Seven of the eight said they didn’t want to come out because they were worried about the media. Nothing came of our conversations with these players so I guess we are back to square one”.

Carlisle told Inside Sport that the PFA has given advice to the players and have assured them of support if they decide to make their sexuality public.

“We feel the industry has changed and that society has changed and is less homophobic, and they will get all the support they need from the PFA,” said Carlisle.

However, echoing his cautionary comments made to GFSN, Carlisle added: “But we cannot guarantee to them there won’t be a negative reaction if they come out.

“Something we cannot deny is that the first player to do it will attract mass media intrusion and I think that’s what is intimidating – that everything in your life, your family, your relationships, will be under scrutiny”.

He added: “Actually, there might well be substantial benefits and commercial opportunities for the first person to do it. That’s just a reality, too. But any player considering coming out would need to weigh all this up, particularly the immediate intrusion into their lives”.

Carlisle believes a player might take the step “reasonably soon”, but will not put a time frame on it.