Free agents face football dilemma
When an estate agent describes a property as having character, do we smile in the knowledge that they really mean it requires major refurbishment?
If we do, then we must also believe that, when a football agent describes a client as being a free agent, he is in effect an unemployed footballer!
It gives me no satisfaction to accept that at the present moment I would fall into such a category, but having found myself in such a position the challenge then becomes dealing with it and finding a way out of it.
The most obvious escape from being an out of work footballer is, of course, to simply sign for another club.
But this is a route which has become more troublesome than previously for a higher number of players as a consequence of a difficult economic climate and significant reduction in squad sizes.
However, even given these circumstances, players would feel confident that their playing experience and achievements would still ensure they would find another club.
And yet, a midfielder with an impressive CV such as Stephen Glass, can still find himself out of football as we enter September because of the dwindling openings in the Scottish game.
I accept that circumstances and wage demands will impact on how easily a player can start playing again.
Undoubtedly, some will have a playing standard or income level that they are either unable or unwilling to drop below.
For example, when I returned to full-time football in my early 20s I did so for a salary of about £200 per week.
At that time, my family and financial commitments were very different from now, and I was desperate to prove myself in the game.
I am honest enough to admit that there is no possibility of me being able to return to a similar situation again.
Not because I have less passion for the game or have become more mercenary.
Rather, changes in personal circumstances mean a move to part-time football or full-time employment that meant no time for playing, would have to take precedence over such a contract.
This more broad-minded approach is not unique to my own school of thought as there is evidence to prove that increasing numbers of Scottish players are becoming better prepared for the future.
Craig Flannigan, the education co-ordinator with PFA Scotland, does a fantastic job sourcing information and advising players on future careers and he would readily admit to having his busiest-ever summer.
This demand for courses comes at a time when funding to help players is far less than it was previously and suggests that it's only the current worrying state of the game that is driving players to think long-term.
At this point, I stress that this is not a blog aimed at gaining sympathy. After all, every employee in every profession is vulnerable to being in the same predicament.
Further to that, as a footballer I have to date (and hopefully will have for a couple more years) enjoyed in my eyes the greatest job in the world.
The enjoyment of training and playing while earning a living is immeasurable and the reason why so many still aspire to play the game professionally.
There is one source of irritation to me within those who comment on the unemployed football player: that is the description of them now having to live in the real world.
The vast majority of players face the same responsibilities as many others in both a personal and financial sense, and therefore don't live in a fantasy world where no worries or troubles exist.
Of course, they live the dream and again I have no concerns in admitting I have enjoyed a good lifestyle from my chosen occupation.
But having no job affects a footballer in just the same way as most other people.
If the search for another club proves fruitless then what other options will a player consider?
The desire to stay within the game is sometimes considered the easy path to follow but in reality it is what a player know best and why the opportunity to coach, manage, work within the media or in an agency will always be appealing.
One final hurdle that an unemployed player must overcome is of course staying fit, and to that end I am very grateful to the management team at Falkirk, and in particular their under 19 coach Craig McPherson, for allowing me to use their facilities and train with their youth team.
At the moment my ambition is to keep playing in the SPL but with enough realism and ambition to be exploring every other possible employment opportunity, both within and out of the game.