A different game


Being an international football player can involve a lot of pressure – there’s high expectations on your shoulders, you have a team of people judging how you should eat, sleep and live and legions of fans either shouting or cursing your name. The property industry is pressure led too however, and Luke Thomas sat down with ex Reading FC and Wales striker, Simon Church to discuss his transition from pitch to property.

How long have you had an interest in property?

I have had an interest in property from the age of 20 when my late dad advised me to purchase a repossessed four bedroom house that was in need of refurbishment. I lived in that for a year then rented it out for 10 years. It was a great investment and gave me the platform I needed to grow my property portfolio.

How was the transition from footballer to property investor?

I have been investing in property for up to 10 years now and it has been a passion alongside business outside of football. With so much dedication going into being a professional footballer, my time was very limited in terms of networking, learning and viewing and buying properties. Luckily for me, I had this interest and planned on starting this business about a year before I was told to retire.

A lot of players come out of the game with no idea what they want to do and the transition is so hard financially and mentally. If I didn’t have an interest in business and property I wouldn’t know what I would be doing - you think football will last for ever when you’re part of it.

Are there similarities between football as a business and a sport to property investment?

There are some similarities for sure - in football you’re judged on your performance and results, and the same could be said for property investment. You can have a great portfolio or development, but if you haven’t done your due diligence on the property or area, you could be buying something that will underperform.

What was it like to go from having your working life as a footballer micro-managed, to becoming you own boss?

If I’m honest it’s a breath of fresh air. As a footballer you are told when to eat, sleep, where to be and what you’re allowed and not allowed to do. You’re basically treated like a child at times, and everything is done for you. The manager and football club are in total control of your career. Now I’m out of the industry, the freedom is the biggest difference and I’m in control of my own future. I do miss football because it’s all I had ever known, and the transition has been tough alongside starting a business from scratch - but I’m really enjoying the challenge and I love the feeling of never knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Tell us a little about Church Investments?

We’re a property consultancy company specialising within the football and sports industry to help secure players’ longer term future through strategic property investment. I have two fantastic business partners who both have 25 years’ experience in the industry, and bring a wealth of knowledge and contacts.

We offer a selection of off market buy-to-let and development opportunities from Surrey up to the North West. Some are already tenanted and provide immediate income on completion of sale and some require refurbishment, which will allow the new owner to add value and let them refinance the deal to minimise their final cash investment. We’re also partnered with one of the top interior designers in the country, Alexander James - a very popular choice with our clients.

More and more players are now realising the benefits of life reversions and buying them so that they can invest cash now and let the investment sit in the background while they concentrate on their playing careers. When they finally retire they can reap the rewards and at least double their investments.

Tell us about some of your property success stories?

We have an increasing number of investments being made, one of which stands out. The client was looking for a plot to build his dream home in a certain area and couldn’t find anything that was right. Within a couple of days we found the perfect plot which wasn’t actively listed on the market, and one that people had been trying to get their hands on for years. We were thrilled to be able to secure it for him.

Success for us is providing sensible, trustworthy and transparent property advice to players so that they can plan for a life after the game, and make the most of their earnings now to create financial security for when they retire. It’s something that hasn’t really been available to players before through someone who has experienced it first-hand.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the property industry?

It’s very uncertain at the moment, and no one really knows what the effects of Brexit will be, it’s brand new ground for us all. Typically though, the UK market is somewhat cyclical, so we believe that any falls will be corrected over time, so we advise clients to buy well, be sensible and not over expose themselves with too much borrowing. This is precisely why we advise our clients to take advantage of life reversions - you buy at 45% of the value, so even if the market drops by 25% your investment is still very safe.

What does the future hold for Church Investments?

Even though we’re still pretty fresh on the scene, we’re constantly meeting players and agents as the word spreads through the industry.  We’re working alongside property investors and developers too, and we have some fantastic deals and meetings in the pipeline – we’re really looking forward to seeing where 2019 takes us!

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