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The hopes and fears of football's free agents

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Paul Fletcher | 18:00 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Professional Footballers' Association's comprehensive list of free agents is as lengthy as it is depressing.

It took me ages to plough through the 31-page list of players who are out of contract. I was driven on by an almost morbid fascination to see who is suddenly facing an uncertain future.

There are the hundreds of players who are still in their teens - footballers I have never heard of but ones whose professional careers could be set to end in their infancy.

Then there are the likes of Liam Rosenior, Jeremie Aliadiere, Lee Hendrie, Francis Jeffers, Keith Gillespie, Russell Hoult, Gavin Mahon, Jay DeMerit, Barry Hayles - all experienced performers at a variety of levels, all united by the fact they are without a club.

But what also unites them all is that they can still be signed by clubs even though the transfer window has now closed.

Jay DeMerit tangles with Wayne Rooney during a World Cup match in South AfricaDeMerit competed against high-profile players at the World Cup

DeMerit, for example, is far too capable to be cast into the footballing wilderness and the defender, who was a regular for Watford during their 2006-07 Premier League season, is hoping that his situation will develop now the window has closed.

He started all four of the USA's games at the World Cup in South Africa but spent the weeks following his side's elimination on a beach in Bali contemplating his future.

The central defender had six years with the Hornets and felt he was ready for a new challenge, parting company with the Championship club on amicable terms at the end of last season.

"It is not that there has not been any interest but nothing has really bitten me," DeMerit told me.

"I am not suggesting that I am going to get a move to Chelsea or anything like that but I am hoping there are teams in England or around Europe that can test me at the highest level.

"I like to think that I have got a lot to offer. That was the original thinking, but things haven't really gone to plan."

DeMerit expected to have found a new club by the start of the season but instead found himself watching from the stands at Vicarage Road as Watford hosted a Coventry team managed by former Hornets boss Aidy Boothroyd.

"I was there watching all my mates playing, it was all a bit surreal," he added.

DeMerit has found it frustrating waiting for a sluggish transfer market to kick into life but told me he always has the possibility of returning home and joining a Major League Soccer club if nothing emerges in Europe.

I thought he sounded relatively upbeat about his situation as he repeatedly stressed the need to be patient and hold out for the correct offer rather than rush into something that he might regret.

Veteran striker Barry Hayles did not sound quite so optimistic when discussing his prospects of playing another season of full-time football.

The 38-year-old was also out of contract last summer but managed to secure a one-year deal with League Two Cheltenham.

That expired at the end of last season and since then Hayles describes the market as "really quiet".

Barry Hayles in action for Cheltenham TownHayles has attracted the interest of several non-league clubs

Hayles has been training with former Leicester and Bradford winger Jamie Lawrence, who now runs a football academy and is the manager of non-league side Ashford Town (Middlesex).

But what he has found really strange is watching the latest scores come in on television on a Saturday afternoon. Hayles laughed ruefully when I asked him about it and described it as weird before adding that his missus was quite happy about it.

His current predicament leaves Hayles facing the prospect of seeking work outside football. He started out in the building trade, still has mates that are involved in it and is considering some kind of return to that industry.

Hayles is a veteran of numerous clubs including Bristol Rovers, Fulham, Millwall, Plymouth and Leicester. Fulham paid £2m for him in 1998 and he was a regular as the Cottagers won promotion to the Premier League in 2001.

"I'll sit tight and see how this week goes but I don't want to leave myself high and dry because there has been a lot of interest from non-league clubs," said Hayles.

"I would not say I've found it stressful but I wish there was light at the end of the tunnel."

The Lambeth-born striker has scored in all four divisions and can at least reflect on a successful career - but the situation is very different for 25-year-old Simon Whaley, who is trying to rebuild his after a disastrous season.

Simon Whaley on loan at Rochdale last seasonWhaley is desperate to prove himself and secure his family's future

Whaley joined Norwich last summer but fell out of favour under new manager Paul Lambert and left the club at the end of January. He picked up an injury in March that required an operation while on a short-term deal with Chesterfield and finished the season looking for a new club.

"Being a free agent has come as a massive shock but it just proves how much your situation can change," said Whaley. "Towards the end of last season my head was all over the place."

It is a far cry from the winger's early days at Preston. He joined from Bury in January 2006 and quickly impressed with his pace and fierce shot, helping North End reach the Championship play-offs. There were rumours of clubs offering £1m to sign him and a promising future in the game seemed assured.

A loss of form saw him fall out of favour and, although he returned to the PNE side after a loan spell at Barnsley in 2008, he was eventually sold to the Canaries.

However, Whaley sounded upbeat when I spoke to him, buoyed by the assessment of a specialist that had been recommended to him by the PFA.

His recent injury can be traced back to an operation he had at the age of 18 to remove some cartilage from his left knee - a procedure that left the joint almost bone on bone.
The specialist has put the winger on a tailor-made programme to strengthen the area by building the muscle groups around the knee and he is confident he will soon be ready to return.

"Word about the knee issue gets around and it kind of hangs over you," added Whaley.

"I need a club willing to take me on my previous record and so any deal would probably be a pay-as-you-play deal."

Whaley was so desperate to find a deal that he went on trial with League Two Bury during the summer despite being some way short of fitness.

"I did two weeks of full-blown pre-season training and played 90 minutes of a friendly match," he said.

"I should not have gone to Bury but it is hard - when you are trying to get a contract you will do anything."

Whaley also had a brief spell training with Conference National team Fleetwood Town, but he is now focused on returning to full fitness so he can grab with both hands any opportunity that comes his way.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he feels that he has a point to prove, but beyond that Whaley is motivated by the desire to impress one person in particular.

"I am not just doing it for myself anymore," he said. "I have an 11-month old boy Theo and I am doing it for him as well.

"I want to be given a chance to knuckle down and enjoy some success."

Whaley, like hundreds of others, is just waiting for the phone call that will give him another chance.

You can follow me throughout the season at


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  • Comment number 1.

    Why can they be signed any time? Surely there'd be complaints if an out-of-contract player like a Kaka or a Torres was suddenly signed up? Even more so if it was a 'big four' club!

  • Comment number 2.

    Would you rather they remianed jobless? And what big player like Kaka or Torres would be a free agent for any length of time?

  • Comment number 3.

    Just goes to show it's not all big money show offs.
    There aren't many other careers out there where you have to fight year in year out for your contract. And a lot of these guys will have families to look after, it's pretty shocking actually.
    Good luck to em'

  • Comment number 4.

    Surely the free agent market can help Portsmouth, or are they still under a transfer embargo?

  • Comment number 5.

    This is the inevitable down side of the "bosman" and subsequent changes which players and their agents have pushed through.

    Now because there is a limit on the number of players "big clubs" amongst others can register, we seem to have a surplus?

    It may take a window or two but some sanity may return to squad sizes in the EPL?

    What makes me think bj is a gooner?

  • Comment number 6.

    Now then,

    I was pretty moved by Whaley's story in particular. He is obviously desperate to find a club and prove himself all over again. Of the three, he perhaps has the most to lose.

    I get the feeling that Jay DeMerit feels he is still in a fairly strong position - I'll guess we'll just have to wait and see. Do you think he would be good enough to play Premier League football?

    Bj (post 1) - that might be a restraint of trade?

  • Comment number 7.

    Bj - any player that is a free agent when the transfer window is open is able to subsequently join a club after the window has shut.

  • Comment number 8.

    When you realize there are only a finite number of jobs available and a new crop of youngsters coming up every year it is inevitable that the same number of players find themselves out of work. It a tough way to end a career, not with a bang but a whimper. Still, I would give my left testicle to have been able to play at that level, even if for just one season.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Paul, De Merit turned down Sheffield United early summer, WC time, so part of you says get stuffed, not as if United are a bad club to be at!

  • Comment number 11.

    yoponz - maybe Sheffield United didn't give him an acceptable enough deal? Maybe they couldn't guarantee him first team football? We don't know.

  • Comment number 12.

    Paul, isn't the transfer window a restraint of trade anyway though?

  • Comment number 13.

    Now Barry Hayles should really retire now I feel. I am a Cheltenham fan and his lack of commitment was disgusting at a time when we were in a hugely weak position, off the field and on. He only trained a few days a week, as he didn't like commuting from London. Looked to be unfit and genuinely looked like he was happy to receive his (insanely inflated) wage packet from us. Nearly took us down with his salary. Now there is a light at the end of the tunnel on low wages without leeches such as Bazza and Martin Allen. Good luck to all the other free agents out there!

  • Comment number 14.

    Don't know what Demerit's thinking really, he is a Championship player and it's true Sheffield United tried to get him.
    Barry Hayles should probably call it a day, unless he wants to remain in football in non-league.
    Whaley is one of the very very few footballers I almost feel for. I hope he does well and finds a new club, but if he doesn't there are far worse things happening in the world, as blunt as this may sound.

  • Comment number 15.

    I and a great many QPR fans feel very sorry for Gavin Mahon's predicament.
    Last season with him in the midfield ball winners role we went on an exceptional run that took us into the play-off places under Jim Magilton.
    But then in December last year a serious knee injury forced him out of the team and onto an operating table which subsequently left him with a four month recuperation period.
    In the meantime QPR went through a whole host of managers until Neil Warnock took up the reigns and brought in his own man in Shaun Derry to do the job that Mahon had perviously down so well for the R's.
    To this day there has been no official confirmation that Mahon is no longer a member of the team and it's only the squad listing that suggests just that.
    I've personally seen him at the last two home games usually accompanying our other injured midfielder and then taking a seat in the directors box.
    I think that Gavin still has plenty to offer a club so I hope that he gets fixed up very soon indeed.

  • Comment number 16.

    This is part of the 'real' side of football and well done on a blog like this Paul. Very interesting contrast between the three guys.

    Watched Scottish junior football as a young boy where most of the guys were plumbers, brickies and joiners: although a guy called Martin Ferguson was lucky enough to get a job scouting for his brother (SAF!). But the fact is that not only do many boys not make it through to a professional level, most professionals struggle in a career that is very short. Interesting comment from Barry Hayles on returning to the construction industry. I suppose for me it highlights the need for most young kids (dreaming of playing pro) to recognise that they need something else in their locker if they don't make it and and even if they do, they need something after the show.

    Would have been interesting of you could have got a comment from the players union Paul. In Scotland there is better provision now for the post-football career guys and a lot of the impetus has come via the players union.

  • Comment number 17.

    I do have some sort of sympathy for those "Freed" from contracts. But let's be honest, if you were released by your employers, would you find it AS easy as MOST footballers at finding alternative employment? I know I didn't, it took me nearly 8 months to start working and providing for my family. But these guys earn more than most of us in a week (barring the lower league guys).

    Personally, I think it's about time the squad limit came in, followed very swiftly by "realistic salary cap". It works perfectly in Rugby League and many American sports, i'd like to see the egotistical, money-grabbing unloyal footballers forced into the same predicament . . .

    Now THAT would be a great read . . .

    ***Not a dig at this Blog, but more at the greedy players***

  • Comment number 18.

    Great read Fletch,

    Barry Hayles did a great job for the Lions, but looking at that shot of him in a Chesterfield kit, he looks more like a Chesterfield sofa thses days.... I didn't realise he was still playing. (I wonder if Chesterfield fans thought the same last season?)

    Simon Whaley's story is pretty sad, but do pro footballers not have decent insurance for career breakdown due to injury? I recall a similar situation for Richard Sadlier a few years back.

    As we all know from the acting trade, you don't retire, but just stop getting called. The same can be said in this post-Bosman era...

  • Comment number 19.

    A salary cap is a ridiculous idea. Without it we may not be able to attract some of the finest footballers in the world to our shores. MLS has a salary cap and the league is not held in high regard at all. I do agree with squad size limits, but those have been brought in with Squad Registration for the Premier League and I'm sure it won't be long before something similar gets passed down the divisions.

    I feel for the guys who get injured and end up out of contract, it must be tough to come back without the support of club physios whilst also trying to prove your fitness to new clubs.

    DeMerit is just biding his time waiting for the right offer to come along, in the right league where he will be considered first choice which in my mind is very respectable, he could have jumped at the first offer of money but he clearly wants to play at the highest level possible for him and actually play!

    Hayles should probably take on a coaching role with younger players. If he still feels the urge to play then non league would be an option but its tough down there.

    Players like Kaka and Torres never have their contracts run out but if they did I'm sure someone would pick them up any time of year and people would be praising the move as a bargain signing not arguing based on when they were purchased. It would be harsh to say to all the out of contract players....sorry you can only sign for clubs between july and september and in january. These players may not have had big wages in the past and because of it need new clubs, and even if they have who can deny them the right to play for a club.

  • Comment number 20.

    I feel slightly sorry for Whaley but he WAS giving it big when he was younger and thinking he was on to the highlife of a footballer. He was well known around the town and not always in the most positive light.

    It's a shame but with the way the markets are turning hopefully this will see the end of players demanding big contracts as some will realise that they are easily replacable and the average ones could quite easily find themselves out of work.

    I dont however feel sorry for players who were earning five grand a week (and upwards in some cases) not so long ago who now need to look for a new club.

    Welcome to the real world chaps, not planet Premiership were some of you think you belong

  • Comment number 21.

    Russel Hoult has just joined Hereford United by the way.

    I follow Newtown in the Welsh Premiership and love following my team but like many fellows fan, we get frustrated with the lack of development, player interest and media interested in the league. My point is, I don't know why some players like Barry Hayles or Whaley or released league 1/2 etc don't go and play football in Scotland (lower leagues), Ireland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

    Yes, granted the standard is not the best or the wages may not be the best but even playing 1 season in that league, might help you to rejoin a football league side.

    Other benefits for joining a team in Ireland, Northern Ireland or Wales is you could possibly play European football. Not many non league teams can offer you that.

    Give it a go, you might like it

  • Comment number 22.

    Great blog brother.

    Another top class effort from the king.

    Long live Fletch.

    Tony Daley

  • Comment number 23.

    lol, Paul Fletcher, what are you going on about ??? These players are simply out of a job, just like any other person who has been made unemployed in the downturn, or lost their job to cut backs. The reality is that people who have been made unemployed need to find alternative work and footballers are no different. If i cant find a job in my related field then maybe i will have to look into a different job sector too to gain employment, and shock horror, i might even have to consider taking a drop in money to do so, but im prepared to do so. Why should footballers be privilaged to high wages and employemnt when the normal joe bloggs of this world are not. How many of these players earn less than the average wage ??? Not many, is my guess !! Yes its not nice being out of work whoever you are, but if your let go by your employer , then its probably because they dont think you worth keeping on your current salary !! These players deserved to be in the predicament they find themselves in and maybe their pride (if their man enough) will have to take a dunt in order to return to work (in whatever field that is).

    Welcome to the real world of the normal person !!!

  • Comment number 24.

    There's still a place for Jay Demerit in the Watford team.

    Sadly, if he thinks he's now 'above' us due to a decent run in the USA team, then more power to him.

    He served his time at Watford FC and thank him for everything he did for us. Let's not forget that it was Watford that plucked him from obscurity at Northwood and propelled him to the international level.

    I don't feel any sympathy for him, however, sitting there without a job.

    I hope that Gavin Mahon finds a club. He's a fully committed leader that could easily still do a job, perhaps even in the Championship. Good luck to him, not many players can say they captained a Watford side to promotion. He can. :)

  • Comment number 25.

    I completly agree with what taffyfc said. Especially for Northern Ireland because our league, and I will admit it, isn't the best. When my team, Glentoran, signed Gillespie last year it was amazing, but now he has moved on. It would be brilliant if we got some players of tht quality into our league. It might help improve it.

    The only problem is that I dont think they would take the money cut. 98% of the Northern Irish league players are part time and don't get paid that much and these free agents would have to take a pay cut.

  • Comment number 26.

    Would a player who missed a transfer during the window be able to bypass this by simply 'retiring', then re-registering as a free agent?

    5) And why do you think I'm a gooner?

  • Comment number 27.

    Football is a profession like any other and I don't feel a greater deal of sympathy for out of work footballers as I would for anybody else. When football clubs are going into administration on a regular basis I can't condone paying people simply out of charity.

  • Comment number 28.

    TomTom is mistaken when he says " There aren't many other careers out there where you have to fight year in year out for your contract". Most engineering projects use contracted consultants and installation / commissioning workforce. When the work is complete, you wait for the agent to find you something else. Sometimes for less money, sometimes at the other end of the world. I echo Tomtom's sentiment, good luck to them, good luck to us all.

  • Comment number 29.

    Russell Hoult is in employment. Sort your facts out.

    Gavin Mahon should come home to Hereford.

    That is all.

  • Comment number 30.

    Instead of these players sitting at home getting rusty and seeing there careers slip away why don't they look for a non-league club and play for a minimal fee. This will enable to keep match fit and the team they play for will gain from the player. Players think that playing at a low level is beneath them and their greed prices them out of the pockets of a non league club, but it is better to be playing than not be playing.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm in total agreement with 'StillHateLeeds' on the Whaley subject. Football is a tough business but pays extremely well, thats if you don't still pay to play in the Sunday league(like myself, no hard feelings i have a good job). Maybe if he held back on buying one of his Range Rover Sports, his whole family's future would be secure. I have seen this happen plenty of times before shoulda, woulda, coulda been a fantastic player. Unfortunately that doesn't pay the morgage! If you don't put the effort in at any job, you end up out of work. I have sympathy for normal 'down to earth' people who have been made redundant for reasons out of their control. Its is unfortunate that he has picked up a serious injury at a tough stage in his career, but welcome to the real world. Save your sob stories for Mr Cowell on X Factor.

  • Comment number 32.

    Barry Hayles and the like could do a good job at a non-league club - the trouble is that most of them want a wage that they can't afford. They should think a bit more like supermarkets and regard their time as being "loss-leader" in order to get back into bigger payment days in the future.

    The chap saying "I shouldn't have gone to Bury" is a perfect example of his overweaning ambition killing his entire career. Why don't the PFA advise them properly as well as fix their bodies?

  • Comment number 33.

    Yep - Russell Hoult has indeed joined Hereford. Thanks for that. I believe he is part of the coaching staff?

    Sympathy for the out of contract players seems to be somewhat on the low side. I don't think we have much sympathy or time for footballers in general any longer.

    We have this image of them that comes as a consequence of the fact that they are regularly splashed all over the headlines for incidents that hardly show them in a gracious or complimentary light. They earn so much money that we can no longer emphathise with them at all. They are remote celebrity figures - and with much of the celebrity population in this country, they are often chopped down after being artificially built up.

    The thing is, alot of the players on the PFA list are young lads who, I would think, have spent all their time being fed a dream of being a pro. They now find themselves out of work.

    As plenty of posters have quite rightly pointed out, lots of people are out of work and looking for a job so why should we feel sorry for footballers. It is a good and sound point. I'm just saying that many of them aren't rich or famous or live in big houses but young people who must be facing a very confusing time.

  • Comment number 34.

    A few points I need to pick up on here.

    How has Jamie Lawrence secured an academy coaching role? What a terrible role model that guy is to young kids.

    Also, the arrogance of footballers again shines through. De Merit should have noted that no top level clubs came in for him when his contract was running out. If anybody rated him, as soon as he was free to talk to the teams would have opened up contract talks with him to secure him for free at the end of the season. He is a rank average player i'm afraid.

    Also, is it just with Whaley that he has been unlucky? Or did he get ahead of his time in his younger days.

    What these lads don't realise is that they have a great opportunity to make a living out of the game regardless. If they took their coaching qualifications, they have the links to get themselves a job that may last for life.

    The likes of your average person with all the qualifications would find it difficult to work their way into the professional game because "They never played Professionally"

    10 years down the line during which they haven't had a penny coming in they sit and wonder where it all went wrong.

  • Comment number 35.

    suprised to see de merit there i think he is a great player an any premier league club would benefit from his talents.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm going to have to go in to bat slightly for Whaley here. His line saying he should not have gone to Bury on trial was in no way a comment on the Shakers, but all about his own lack of fitness. His knee problem had not healed fully.

    Having read that sentence again, (I should not have gone to Bury but it is hard - when you are trying to get a contract you will do anything), I realise it is slightly ambiguous.

  • Comment number 37.

    18) Get you eyes tested fella, Barry Hayles is in a CHELTENHAM shirt not Chesterfield (big clue Chesterfield play in Blue like your lions)

    19) There already is a voluntary salary cap in the lower leagues whereby the teams cannot spend more than a percentage of income on players wages (think its about 66%) but thats the problem its voluntary. That's why Notts County had to get rid of Kasper Schmichel amongst others as Munto Finance had offered them more than they could afford. (Not having a go magpies that is how I read the situation to be and was not the fault of the current administration or the fans)

    4) based on the fact that they signed two players from Stoke (Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson) with Marc Wilson going the other way I assume the transfer embargo has been lifted.

  • Comment number 38.

    No sympathy whatsoever with Liam Rosenior. He was offered a trial at Bristol City and walked out after one day. With the lack of quality full backs at the Club he was virtually guaranteed first-team football, but apparently, he thought he was too good for us. Yep, clearly in great demand!

  • Comment number 39.

    just goes to show you should have summat to fall back on. Ma was right. Steve Coppell took the time to get his degree even tho he was a very gifted player, then he spannered his knee at 26...ish. Ironically, he did nae really need the degree cos then he become a manager. S'a funny ole game innit eh?

    course I could have been a pro like, but i really loved beer & fags

  • Comment number 40.

    Mr Fletcher, are all those on the free agent list Brits? If so I blame all these Johnny foreigners - they took their jobs!

  • Comment number 41.

    I think the lack of sympathy for them stems from the fact that even a lot of lower league players are still on more money than probably 80 odd percent of the population. There are players in League One earning more in a year than doctors, engineers and dentists, let alone more than the average people who go to watch football, many of whom have lost their jobs and had great financial difficulty over the last few years.
    I feel sorry in a way for some of the injured ones, not for the money they are losing but for how frustrating it must be to see your career wrecked by injury. The one thing they have going for them is the transfer window, because clubs can't sign players from other clubs, they may need to look to these guys to fill gaps made by injury and suspension. I feel that this is a real positive side to the window and can give chances to players who have been unlucky (and some who are out of contract by their own fault) and some of these guys turn out to be really good signings.
    DeMerit was easily the better of the two players in the old Shittu-DeMerit partnership, if Danny managed to get into the Prem I can't see Jay having a problem getting in to a club in one of the top European leagues.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the only thing that is in anyway revealing about this is that some of the names are quite familiar.

    Other than that, I don't see what is trying to be said. Has it only just occurred to some people that supply and demand and economies of scale are at work in this market as in any other market.

    Chances are that some of the free agents just see themselves above working for lower league teams. Just a shame that those doing the hiring disagree with them. I want to work as Chancellor of the Exchequer but you know what, those people that appoint that role don't agree with me. I'll get over it.

    This is not the first time this story has come up and it won't be the last. These professional footballers have options you know. Work at a lower level, take a pay cut, work abroad, change career etc etc

    Paul, there is as much sympathy for these players (there is some) as there are for people who may be surplus to requirements in any industry (there is some). It's life, move on. Or does the fact that they are 'famous' make them a special case?

  • Comment number 43.

    Fantastic blog Paul..we need more of this type of stuff that really delves deeply into the heart of what makes our game tick. I agree that there is a lack of sympathy for players nowadays, partly because of the way most are portrayed as 'flash' chancers by the celeb obsessed media, but it could include a bit of jealousy on our part that at the end of the day they are in a 'job' most of us would give our high teeth to do...a couple of hours training a day and a fairly substantial wage packet even at the lower end of the pro-scale - Quoting from a 2006 BBC article:

    "Championship players earn an average salary of £195,750, League One players £67,850 and League Two £49,600" ...and that was five years ago!

    There is sympathy for the youngsters starting out that don't quite make it, but the amount of money going into the P.F.A. coffers nowadays (who even act as agents themselves for many pro's) - there is little excuse for their members not to get the right support.

    Wonder if Arsene can pick up a decent keeper from the list?? ;)

  • Comment number 44.

    Just had a thought as well, you know the ruling allowing players to buy themselves out of a contract? What is to stop a club saying to a player, "you buy yourself out of your contract and we will scale up your signing on bonus to cover the outlay"? There will probably be a ruling to avoid this but you never know...

  • Comment number 45.

    Who cares! It's not like they are out of work doctors or nurses! The only reason they are out of work is because they only want to play football. Plenty of jobs on building sites, lads. Time to start growing up and behaving like adults.

  • Comment number 46.

    Paul, is there anyway we can read this full list?

  • Comment number 47.

    "Who cares! It's not like they are out of work doctors or nurses! The only reason they are out of work is because they only want to play football. Plenty of jobs on building sites, lads. Time to start growing up and behaving like adults."

    A very good point. If they are so desperate (which I doubt) then it does beggar belief as to why they've not taken up a construction course etc.

  • Comment number 48.

    I don't know if it's relevant or not, but, where the nationality is not English, are these players also on a list of free agents in, say, the French equivalent website? Also, are the English players only shown on this English website or are they advertising themselves overseas as well?

  • Comment number 49.

    The examples on this blog are used, understandably, because we know the names. They had at least some time at the top. What of the kids who were told they were good enough to play at professional level and so focused on their football, only to be told that, actually, they're not. I have sympathy for them.

    Having said that, you get the feeling some footballers need to be grounded in reality a bit more often. Ashley Cole's "nearly crashed my car" comment when offered a mere £55,000 per week is ultimate example of how some footballers perceive the world and themselves. I would love to be a professional footballer, and I think it's sad that deMerit said there have been offers but none that match his own perception of himself. Really, really, really depressing. I think he will find a club, but I hope it won't be mine (bristol city), because he would leave at a sniff of a bigger club (I guess only Barcelona fits that tag!!!).

  • Comment number 50.

    #49 jcb211

    What people either don't understand, or chose to ignore, about the Ashley Cole thing is that it was a principal that annoyed him, not the amount per se.

    If we can rise above tabloid style sensationalism that 'sticks up for the working class' and think for ourselves, perhaps we would all get along better.

  • Comment number 51.

    These players are either past it, think they are better than they are, or still dreaming of big money..... Time for them to join the world of Ronnie Real. Quit the game, or take what's on offer.

  • Comment number 52.

    Post 33. Fletcher

    Sorry I don't buy your comment of young lads being fed a pipe dream. It is down to the young lads to get an education should they not make it and therefore having no club and no job is their own fault.

  • Comment number 53.

    MrBlueBurns is right, if I were a young player released by a big club, I would be doing everything I could to stay in the game. I would be touting myself around lower league clubs in Italy, Spain, Germany, colleges in the US, anywhere in fact. I get the impression that younger players here don't look abroad enough, the Glenn Hoddle Academy should be praised for the work it has done to that end. Perhaps a wee article talking about their successes and future successes could be an interesting read. Would get you a nice jolly to Spain too Paul.

    We shouldn't feel sorry for anyone who got a job playing professional football. They managed to avoid working for the man sitting at a desk, did something they love and got well rewarded for it. If they didn't invest wisely and managed to blow it on fast cars and such like then you could say they're only human, but the rest of the working world has to learn to manage investments and save for the future.

    Also, DeMerit is a good player, if we weren't well stacked at centre half I would have him at Newcastle. I'd expect him to be capable of doing a job in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 54.

    50. At 11:11am on 01 Sep 2010, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #49 jcb211

    What people either don't understand, or chose to ignore, about the Ashley Cole thing is that it was a principal that annoyed him, not the amount per se.

    If we can rise above tabloid style sensationalism that 'sticks up for the working class' and think for ourselves, perhaps we would all get along better.


    The principle that he was worth more in his own eyes, which is exactly what I'm talking about. I know that this is at the extreme end of things, but its a reflection of how a lot of players perceive themselves.

    I think players owe a huge amount to their clubs, and that its this loyalty which is being eroded by the growth of 'player power'. Is it therefore a surprise that clubs are loathe to show loyalty back?

  • Comment number 55.

    Good, interesting blog Paul. Always nice to read something a bit "outside the box".

    I watched Barry Hayles for Cheltenham on the opening day of last season, he almost single handedly won them the three points, coming from 1-0 down v Grimsby.

    You would think there are plenty of lower league and Conference clubs willing to give some of these players a go, but as has been mentioned, there are so many players, there's always going to be a surplus.

    I know a few of the young lads on that PFA list - their problem is that without any real first team experience, there's not really a lot on their CV, so the best they can hope for is that someone's either seen them in the reserves or academy, or that they go on trial with a non-league club and try and work their way back up. If they're talented they'll get there, but they have to work hard for it.

  • Comment number 56.

    When passion for playing football is a much bigger motivator than money (and the football parasitic agents are long gone)

    Then & only then - will football start to grow more interest with the real & genuine football supporter

    Football is just a game - nothing more

  • Comment number 57.


    Spot on there Fletch. I don't doubt that many young lads have their dreams shattered (I was on trial at Bradford City in '99 but missed out), and I feel their pain. But i'm in a job where progression is possible, but i've to put the work, effort & commitment in (Mental Health Nurse), so i've little sympathy for the young lads, who may just have to resort to being an "Average Joe" and not a Celebrity.

    The problem in my eyes is the media. They build these players up, who in turn believe the hype (the England Team are a fantastic example) yet fail at every opportunity, but still expect the big money, flash cars & the support of the fans.

    Too many (not all) footballers expect too much money for not enough work. Seriously, how tough is it to kick a bit of leather around the grass for 90 minutes twice a week? Sunday League players PAY for that honour!

    No player on this planet, for any sport, is worth the money these guys earn, and it does sicken me that someone like Yaya Toure, and average footballer at best, is picking up a reported £200,000 a WEEK! That'd take me over 10 years to earn, seriously, that cannot be right.

    As for whoever mentioned the Salary Cap being useless in the MLS, I was actually referring to every other sport rather than Football in the States. American Football, Basketball, Baseball etc etc all have Salary Caps and it doesn't seem to dent the popularity of quality of the League(s).

    All in all, football is about 1 thing these days, MONEY! Until football in general realises how OTT they've been with money, and how to handle it correctly, we'll be stuck in this rut of over-paid, lazy players expecting everything handed to them, including 38 year old players who would likely struggle at Sunday League level themselves . . .

    *Rant Part 2, Over*

  • Comment number 58.

    #34 jcb211

    No. He was promised one amount per week (£60k) and then the draft contract came through with less (£55k).

    Ignore the sums, the principal was the issue there. He felt let down and that's why Chelsea now have one of the best players in the business.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi Paul

    It would be interesting to see the ball park figures for average player wages as you drop through the divisions. We are all aware of the £10k-£150k per week inflated Premiership numbers, but how steep is the drop off to, for example, a typical League 1 or 2 player?

  • Comment number 60.

    Paul,am I correct in thinking that you,like me,are a Forest fan?
    If so,could you use your influence to find out just what is,or should I say,is not going on at the City Ground?
    Would BD have been at PNE when Whaley was there and more to the point,would he be worth a punt?

  • Comment number 61.

    I haven't read the posts - Just too many! Regarding Demerit (I'm a Watford fan) he is holding out for a deal in the premiership, he has had plenty of offers to stay in the championship but wants to test himself at a higher level.

    Which is far too high for him. Decent championship player at best, I see him ending up in the MLS.

  • Comment number 62.

    #59 $$$--pacman--$$$ wrote: 'how steep is the drop off to, for example, a typical League 1 or 2 player?'

    "Championship players earn an average salary of £195,750, League One players £67,850 and League Two £49,600" ...and that was five years ago!

    #58 No-one really questions Cashley's a decent player, but don't forget his alledged secret hotel meeting with Mourinho, his comments post World Cup about England and English fans (inc.Chelsea) - his wish to go to Madrid. His 'principals' when it came to his own marriage...I think you can see why people don't really like him that much? Besides quibbling over £5k on a contract when you're earning that much in win bonuses alone is a bit rich ;)

  • Comment number 63.

    Surely most of these players should have taken up some kind of ref or coaching badge. The FA should be picking them up and saying maybe you are a better coach or ref than a player. Maybe something else within sport.

    They have plenty of extra time on their hands and if they are not intelligent enough to have something to fall back on then they have no sympathy from me. This also includes the younger players as they should have had managers and or family who should have kept their feet on the ground and not have their heads turned by premiership/international teams. Only a few have worked their way up from the lower clubs to big clubs.

  • Comment number 64.

    No sympathy for Whaley at all, Fletch. As North Enders, you and I both know the way this Big Time Charlie larged his way around Preston of a weekend. The worst of his behaviour came in a town centre takeaway when he threw chips on the floor, and offered money to girls willing to pick them up and eat them. The biggest waste of a talent I've ever seen at Deepdale. His massive valuation went to his head, his form dipped...and the rest is history. Serves him right; hope he gets a job mixing cement on a building site in Watford. It's all he's good for.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    The fact that a huge percentage of the Premiership players are now from overseas (even new rules for home-grown players are laughably biased to allow overseas players to qualify easily - Cesc Fabregas home-grown - what a joke) means that there are fewer jobs for British players.
    I don't see our players unable to get a job in England moving to the leagues around Europe and playing in Russia, Poland or Slovakia for less money but at least maintaining their career. Why is that? Are they not really that hungry for football after all? Or does the rest of Europe view these players as inferior? I guess after the world cup (ever since 1990 and our last decent side) the reputation of English football isn't that high, but I still find it amazing that there are so few British players playing abroad.

  • Comment number 67.

    Old8oy,maybe Whaley not such a good idea then?!!!
    Fletch is a PNE fan?
    I must be confusing him with someone else then.
    Guy who writes for The Guardian perhaps,name obviously eludes me atm.

  • Comment number 68.

    #62 JoC

    I'm not a fan of what Cole does in his private life (nor am I that interested) and I'm certainly not his agent, but I think that the way he is held up as the bogey man of modern football is mostly to do with jealousy and very poor reporting. You really think the way he conducts himself is that much different to most players? I don't think so but once a player has been used to try and define the worst excesses of the game he becomes easy meat. He hasn't helped himself, but why should he behave how the press want him to?

    #65 jcb211

    You're right, none of us know exactly what went on. Still, that hasn't stopped journalists acting like they do know what exactly went on whilst turning a blind eye and indeed helping other players and their agents with 'gossip column' material. That's what annoys me about it all. It's just so hypocritical and if anything, all the while people point the finger at Cole, they hope that it detracts from what is going on elsewhere.

    Finally, I wonder if any player that Zahavi has acted for have made as much from the game, from actually playing it, as Zahavi has, who has never kicked a ball....

  • Comment number 69.

    The writings on the wall I'm afraid, unsustainable costs, high wages, agents demands.
    I liken football now to social structure, the top players getting all the cream and the needy a growing number... and yes welcome to the real world!

    Football is big business, no longer a working mans sport, you support your lifelong team... and if the wonga is not there then the club you love has to either get real or go to the wall... having an academy, youth teams, large squads are no longer viable without the budget... so less players needed and a shortfall of "future investment" into UK football.
    Its not just the excess players suffering but football as a whole... home grown talent will be harder to generate and nurture if the future looks bleak for aspiring players.

    I'm a Derby fan and I believe the club have "grasped the nettle"
    Smaller squad, reduced budget..... and reduced expectations :-(
    But I'd rather have a club to support than no club at all
    Up the rams :-) (Paul - Castle Donington)

  • Comment number 70.

    #68 MrBlueBurns

    Fair comment..but I think with Cashley it's definately a bit of 'he's made his bed so now let him lay in it'. He can't use principles as a defense when he often displays little of them himself. As for the media using him as a 'bogey man' you're right there aswell, but don't forget he was happy to use them to make easy money (remember the infamous white get up with Cheryl and the Rolls Royce advert?) and OK! shoots. They pick on a few examples because they think the public are too thick to grasp the wider implications and don't want to completely destroy their cash cow. Besides, is it really a defense to say just because there are loads of other footballers of a similar ilk?

    'Why should he behave how the press want him too?'..he shouldn't I suppose but like it or not (and I don't) being a media exposed England international he's in a role-model position for millions of kids, and should act accordingly to deserve the accolade. Not that many of our national squad are much better!

  • Comment number 71.

    Very interesting blog from one of the better bloggers on the BBC sport website.

    I imagine one thing that doesn't help these free agents is that many championship, league 1 and 2 sides these days often take youth players on loan from clubs higher up the league ladder and this negates the short-term need to bring in free agents as they're getting young, talented, albeit inexperienced - guys from top notch academies. Not saying this is a bad thing necessarily, just that it must contribute to the amount of clubless players.

  • Comment number 72.

    I find it hard to have sympathy. Even league 2 players earn more than 3 times my salary & I have a degree in Engineering and 20 years experience in the construction industry. In 2008 I had to move back in with my Mum in Essex, and let my home in Derbyshire out, because the company I then worked for was going bust. My entire lifestyle was turned on its head. I am now studying for an MSc, at my own expense, on top of doing a full time job, in the hope that it will improve my career prospects. Footballers do part time jobs, where they have plenty of time to study for a career outside of football, plus lots of help from their union. Footballers do not live in the real world. In fact, apart from banking, I think it is the only industry where you can continually fail and still get offered another job (managers Alan Ball, Ian Dowie, Gary Megson & Tony Adams spring to mind). The only people I feel remotely sorry for are youngsters who've given up any academic aspirations, niaively believing that they are the next Wayne Rooney, only to be spat out at 16 because they are deemed not good enough.

  • Comment number 73.

    Everyone is just focussing on the financial side, but that is not the point i feel. The loss of the dream is. I'm sure many of us wanted to be pros and were nowhere near good enough, but we wanted to be pros for the glory & the love of the game did we not? I feel for em for that reason. chin up tho, Ian Wright was still non-league at 23....ish

    As for Cashley, he's one of the best, he wants to be paid as such....still Can't stand him tho

  • Comment number 74.

    I would certainly take DeMerit and Rosenior as cover at my club Forest but that said, I would take any permanent deal that comes in if the clubs transfers committee allows it!

    What are they paid for again???????

    Nagging about my club aside, I saw Gillespie trial in a couple of friendlies for Notts County in the summer and he didn't look like he could improve the side in any way. As for Barry Hayles, i don't see where any 'league' club would benefit from having him unless it was in a coaching or similar capacity.

  • Comment number 75.

    Being a Bury fan I really like the 'Whaley was so desperate to find a deal that he went on trial with League Two Bury'.

    He was a good player when he left Bury, the fans wanted him to stay however our financial issues at the time dictated we had to sell. Many fans were excited by his potential return however we soon realised he was nowhere near the player he was. We instead signed Andy Haworth (from Blackburn) and Kyle Bennett (on a free from Wolves). Their wage demands togetehr would have been less then the wage demand of Whaley.

    The rumour was Whaley went to Fleetwood as they were offering silly money to other signings due to the club having a rich owner.

  • Comment number 76.

    Last season one of my friends went to a hospitality event at a Sheffield Wednesday home match. He arrived early and saw James O'Connor and Francis Jeffers arrive (separately). O'Connor turned up in a Vauxhall, Jeffers in a Lamborghini.

    Considering their respective contributions to the Sheffield Wednesday cause over the last few years I can fully understand why O'Connor is still employed and Jeffers is a free agent.

    5 goals in 54 league games as a striker.
    Not every player in the 31-page list is a deserving cause.

  • Comment number 77.

    Maybe some of these players think they are better than they actually are and are looking for a type of club to come in them who never will...

  • Comment number 78.

    DeMerit at least has MLS to fall back on, which I'm sure he wouldn't hate completely as he'd be back home in the USA, but he'd only be on a contract of around $200,000 - $250,000 per year, which while good money to me and you, he could probably get four or five times that playing in Europe.

    I'm surprised my team, Nottingham Forest, haven't gone for DeMerit. We definitely need a bit of cover at the back. While he's unspectacular, he is solid.

  • Comment number 79.

    19. At 9:42pm on 31 Aug 2010, kopking88 wrote:
    A salary cap is a ridiculous idea. Without it we may not be able to attract some of the finest footballers in the world to our shores


    We'd have to start producing our own, now wouldn't that be nice?

    Seriously though any salary cap would have to be at least european wide in order to promote fair competition, it would lead to less mercenaries selling themselves to whoever pays the most money and for me that can only be a good thing. The way it's going only those with the most money will win titles as a kopite that should worry you as much as anyone.

  • Comment number 80.

    #40 Read the article again - Jay DeMerit is American!

    Also, when he was released, Malky said something about him having some personal stuff to sort out - must have sorted it if he's in a position to look for a new club. He is also (co-?)owner of a bar. I think it's in the US so a move to the MLS would siut him in that respect.

    For those who say it's not about money, JDMs wages were the reason we couldn't keep him.

  • Comment number 81.

    I was a director of a club that was in Div 1 and 2. Most players certainly earned nowhere near what a doctor would earn. Max salary was 50k pa, and many of the younger players were on less than 20k pa. The entire turnover of the club - and it was one of the bigger lower league ones - was rather less than half of what Rio Ferdinand earned a year.

    Lower league footballers do have a precarious life and certainly deserve more sympathy than they are getting here.

  • Comment number 82.

    Paul, I'd agree with your point about this being a difficult time for younger players who might be finding out that they don't have a future in football, though the stories you have chosen don't really convey that sentiment. Hayles is 38 and should have been making plans for his retirement for about eight years. Demerit turned down the offer of Championship football and I can't see him being without a club for long. Whaley suffered an injury, something all players should make provisions for - just ask Dean Ashton.

    There was an article on the Barnsley team page for most of last season about the club providing training opportunities for its players, with everybody from Darren Moore to the squad's youth players involved. Hopefully more clubs are providing opportunities like this, rather than just letting kids believe that they will make it. I find it hard to believe that these kids aren't making preparations for a future outside football, surely only the very best players can afford that luxury, and even they should have backup options.

    Didn't you do a story last year about the trials day for out of work youth players? I recall seeing it on here but I can't remember the author.

  • Comment number 83.

    i have dealt with a lot of league one and league two players over the last few years

    simon is a prime example of somebody whose reputation for off the field activities is now hindering him even getting a contract at league two level (ability wise he is league one or better). From the outside people often wonder why certain players are retained or always seem to get a new club, its mainly because they are good pros who work hard and or set good examples to others

  • Comment number 84.

    19. A salary cap does not have to be a ridiculous idea, it just requires a change of thought of mind. A salary cap might not lead to the best players in the world playing in the prem, but it would likely lead to a more equally competitive league for all fans to enjoy. Also the finest players dont always make for the most enjoyable and entertaining football. World Cup, displaying the 'finest' players in the world...DIRE. The FA Trophy Final between stevange and barrow, displaying part timers with full timers...BRILLIANT. if you love football you are likely to enjoy a game such as wednesday v palace last day of the season as you are Man Utd v Chelsea.

    A salary cap would likely lead to more players being employed, on sustainable wages and clubs being able to offer longer deals thus securing the players futures AND clubs would develop players over time and not expect immediate success on their outlay.

    It is a doable idea. But not whilst their are so many Premier League scoundrels and the like on the FA board.!!!

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm amazed by the lack of sympathy. Some people are just really bitter.
    YES - footballers out of work are like any other people out of work. But the wages you THINK they earn whilst they're with a club are usually much less then you'd think.

    And even though they may still seem like a lot of money, you have to realise the career of a player goes from contract to contract - any injury could mean the end. The same logic applies to maintenance workers out in Iraq. Though perhaps you have no sympathy for them either if they come home in a body-bag...

    I have to make this point: THIS HAS NOT BEEN CAUSED BY THE BOSMAN RULING! Players have always been released due to injury, new manager not fancying them, club's own financial pressures, etc. The only slight effect from the Bosman is that more players may refuse the offer of a new contract hoping to negotiate a better deal with a new club, that doesn't materialise. But really, that only affects the top-end of the market.

    The big change since 1997 in that YTS schemes have been aboloished and acadamy's formed. As is clear from this article, many, many promising young players will never make a living from football. By-in-large, these are working class kids who thought they were living a dream. The focus of academies should be to prepare these kids for a life outsuide football (but perhaps still in sport, through physio courses or coaching).

    Finally, if the high-end earners (big 4 squads) gave up just 5% of their income it would enable to PFA to provide a better cushion for the players that fall out of the game. But that would need either a) goodwill of millionaire footballers or b) regulation caused by some unique government intervention and I can't see either of those things ever happening...

  • Comment number 86.

    Thanks for all the comments, which have certainly resulted in a lively debate.

    TheTomTyke (post 82) - I wanted to tell three very different stories, hence the players chosen. You are right, though, there are lots of players most people will never have heard of who are on the free agents list. I did do a piece about the FL exit trials - there was a definite desperation about that day.

    I tend to agree with jethroupatree (post 81) that there are lots of lower league players who don't earn very much, certainly nothing like the sums we tend to associate with modern footballers.

    It is interesting that a few Forest fans are talking about potential free transfers - I imagine there are a few clubs that might be showing an interest in free agents; players that have suddenly perhaps become a lot more attractive.

  • Comment number 87.

    Comment number 56) It always amuses me when people write football is only a game. To us yes but to the professionals who play the game its their career/job, its what pays their bills and puts food on their plates. Not all footballers are paid massively and handsomely and most professional footballers are spotted at a very early age and therefore do not get the same sort of qualifications as most of us. So when they lose the right or ability to play in this profession they have to find something else to do and this can be difficult for them, especially if they are not at the top end of the game. Saying that I agree with the no sympathy for Whaley....he suffered a fate called karma

  • Comment number 88.

    #85 Brandyrecovery

    I think the judgement you show in being amazed at the lack of sympathy is perhaps the same judgement you use to compare an unemployed footballer to a dead Iraqi maintenance worker. (Of course, 'maintenance worker' may simply mean someone who is employed by Blackwater, or whatever it was renamed, but let's not go there!) I don't think most people would share that type of judgement.

    The point most people are making is that they are probably not unsympathetic as such to unemployed footballers, but they are unsympathetic to the idea that they are in some way a special case deserving of some sort of sympathy even though unemployment/redundancy and re-training is something that goes on for other types of workers all the time. They don't have a union to advertise them or blogs written to highlight their plight and yet they get on with it.

  • Comment number 89.

    # 88

    Football has a greater responsibility than most industries. It tends to promise the world to these youngsters, who concentrate solely on football and neglect their school work. You cant really blame 13 year olds for wanting this, yet when they inevitably fail to make the grade in most cases they are left wondering what happened. It is a unique case and should be treated as such. Youre not going to make most 12 year old kids think he needs to do his homework as much as he needs to practice his shooting, so football clubs need to provide alternative career paths or training options.

    Most careers dont last just a few years either and many arent restricted by physical ability to the extent football is. If a player gets an injury that ends his career, all he knows is gone. if i were to get an injury that stopped me from running about i could still do my job.

  • Comment number 90.

    As a Bury fan I was definitely excited when I heard Whaley might be coming back to us as he was a good player. However, having the injury to the extent he has with cartilage problems it would have been a major risk for us to sign him whilst he was still unfit.

    Paul, you know how the BBC Sport site has had blogs from pro footballers over the last couple of about giving a blog to a free agent, so he can document how difficult it can be getting a club when out of contract this year? That'd make interesting reading and a great insight into the way clubs work when it comes to free agents.

  • Comment number 91.

    62 JoC: "Championship players earn an average salary of £195,750, League One players £67,850 and League Two £49,600" ( ...and that was five years ago!

    I think these figures need updating! Sadly, League One players at my particular club earn nowhere in the region of £67,850. Last season, I believe that the manager was allocated a weekly 'playing-squad salaries' budget of £15,000 to share out across his squad. If there were, say, 23 players in that group, and assuming they were all paid the same, then each would earn £652.17 (gross) per person, or an annual salary of £33,913 before tax. Naturally, some players would be on more money than others... so those in the 'less' camp cpuld be seen as 'ordinary working people' on 'normal' wages. In pre-season, one well-known former Swansea and Bristol City player who was training with the squad was tempted away by the offer of £2,000 a week from a non-league team in South Wales, and my club simply couldn't afford to match that offer...

    The money that is lavished on the Premiership teams and players simply does not filter down through to lower-division clubs as it used to in years gone by, and as a result any significant investment at this level - not only in academies and young players, but in many areas where football clubs have traditionally been seen as an integral part of their community - is constantly under threat. And, as any good gardener knows, if you don't feed the roots, then no matter how healthy and flourishing the whole plant is looking, it'll topple over when those roots wither away...

  • Comment number 92.

    #89 fans-united

    I just don't agree about football being a special case. If you are right, it is only a special case because certain people chose to follow their dream at the expense of everything else whereas common sense (actually, parents, coaches etc) should tell them that the chances of making it are slim.

    It's like me pinning my hopes on a lottery win and then moaning when it doesn't happen.

    #91 Designer59

    If the wages are as poor as you say, and let's assume they are, then leaving football and earning a comparable amount in an 'ordinary' job is just a question of adapting to a job you don't like. The only thing they are losing is that they have to accept that they can't do what they want. If they love the game that much, they can still play at amateur level.

    Up and down the country, there are people doing jobs that they don't like but do that job because it pays the bills. It's life.

  • Comment number 93.

    #91 You are quite would be very interesting if anyone out there could provide updated info (I was quoting from an old BBC report and ofcourse 'average' figures can be skewed by one player earning significantly more than the rest.)

    Designer59 do you mind me asking who your league one club actually is and how did you come across those figures? How is it that a non-league teams in South Wales affords to dish out more than full-time pro clubs backed up by the new TV money the Football League has agreed with the Premiership? The money is there if the club is run correctly.

  • Comment number 94.

    Because the transfer window is a TRANSFER window. So named as it's a window during which time contracts can be TRANSFERRED mid term. If a player has no contract, there is nothing to be transferred, it's a new contract. Geddit?

  • Comment number 95.


    local sugar daddy probably. see them all over in the english non league. clubs with few fans can rise to the conference north/south with a few season cash injection. corby town for one

    his club probably have a wage structure to adhere to and are sensible in their distribution of money between players

  • Comment number 96.

    It appears Designer59 is a Tranmere Rovers fan as it's almost certainly former Swansea and Bristol city striker Lee Trundle being talked about, who trained with Tranmere pre-season before being snapped up in a shock signing by Neath of the Welsh Premier, making him the league's highest-paid player. No, I don't know how they're affording it either, given the low profile, tiny attendances etc. of most of the Welsh league...

  • Comment number 97.

    I do not have any sympathy for these footballers who acted the 'Big I am' nonsense and then found themselves unwanted and unsigned.

    If they knew they had potential and worked hard, and had a relatively good head on their shoulders then the majority of them would still be playing. Maybe not in the preferred league for example, but being professional is not a title. Its an ethic, a way of behaving.

    This escapes SO many of these 'Pros'

    For every Paul Scholes, theres a hundred Lee Sharpes....And for every Lee Sharpe, theres a hundred Whaley's...

  • Comment number 98.

    #96 VelvetAndroid

    Perhaps they're paying him in pies....

  • Comment number 99.

    #79, fair competition is irrelevant in the face of an ethical standpoint. Besides, if one country introduces a cap and others see the benefits that would have on their national team, then it would eventually lead to a cap being applied across the continent. At the moment our league and European competition is all geared up to make big clubs bigger. If we want to have fairer and more competitive football in the UK we should follow the lead of Germany - who also reaped the rewards in the World Cup with the quality of their emerging talent. They have restricted the money the clubs can receive from TV deals, rather than issuing a cap, which means that the clubs themselves must govern their expenditure on wages. It means they can't afford to pay the big wages we can, and you might think that would make their clubs less competitive, but they had a club in the European Cup final last season and have the highest attended and most exciting and competitive league in European football.

  • Comment number 100.

    93, 96 - Yes, a Tranmere fan... it's a life sentence! The figure I quoted for the 'playing-squad's' budget was actually mentioned by the manager on one programme of the North West edition of BBC1's 'Kick Off' last season. I can't be sure what this season's budget is, but with all that went on at Prenton Park last season combined with falling gates, I can't imagine it'll be any more than was available then.


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