Maddy Cusack: Player juggled two jobs as Sheffield United Women's paid just £6,000 a year, says mum
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The mother of Sheffield United's Maddy Cusack says her daughter was paid just £6,000 to play football last year - and she was under "too much pressure" in the months before her death.
The Blades vice-captain died at her home in Derbyshire on September 20, leaving family, friends, fellow players and the wider Sheffield United community devastated. She was 27.
But this week, her mum Deborah went public that the club has agreed to an enquiry over her death, sharing how her daughter was "broken" by football in her final months.
Now, in a televised interview with the BBC, Deborah has revealed how Maddy was under "too much pressure" and juggling two jobs because she was paid just £6,000 a year to play football.
Sources online suggest the Blades' top-paid male player, Rhian Brewster, earns £1.82m a year, or £35,000 a week.
Sheffield United declined to comment when asked by The Star to confirm this and to publish what their Women's squad players are paid. It also did not confirm if an investigation was underway.
Deborah told the BBC: "Last year their players were part-time, which means that they all had full-time jobs and trained three times a week, played on a Sunday, often travelled on a Saturday to play on a Sunday, for a minimal amount of money," said her mother, Deborah Cusack.
"I think Madeleine was on £6,000 a year last year to play football. So these girls are having to juggle two jobs, they're having to train and behave like male athletes for a minuscule amount of the money they get. It's too much, the pressures are way too much."
As well as playing for Sheffield United in the Women's Championship - the second tier of women's football - Maddy reportedly worked in the club's office as a marketing executive. and her family said she had to do two jobs to make ends meet.
This week, the Maddy Cusack Foundation - a charity set up to help girls into football - published a speech made by Deborah at an event on October 27 to mark the day before what would have been Maddy's 28th birthday, saying how Maddy's "irrepressible spirit" was "broken by football".
"The saddest and most utterly heartbreaking reason why I am having to stand here and speak to you today is because of football," Deborah said.
"From February this year, the indomitable, irrepressible spirit, the spirit called Maddy, the spirit that I had so fearlessly protected was allowed to be broken.
"Taking her away from me.
"Those who knew Maddy well will be aware that she had no long-standing mental health issues or troubles. Not that there would be anything to be ashamed of if there were, but there were not. Those that didn't know her need to know that.
"Maddy was a happy-go-lucky, carefree girl with everything to live for and by last Christmas could be described as being at her happiest. This all changed gradually from February this year.
"It is no secret, nor should it be, that Sheffield United Football Club have agreed at the request of Maddy's family to carry out a thorough external investigation into the events that her family believe contributed significantly to her passing at the tender age of 27."
Sheffield United declined to comment.
Prior to her death, Cusack had just started her sixth season with the Blades in the Women's Championship and was the longest-serving player in their squad, with over 100 appearances, and also worked as a marketing executive for the club.
The former England youth international signed a new contract extension with the Blades in July.