Decision Time In May

Last updated : 12 May 2004 By Mark Heys
Delroy Facey - out of work
May is usually a month in football where many things get sorted out - from the joy of Promotion, to the despair of Relegation and the agony of the Play Offs thrown in but despite all this May can also spell the end of football for many players.

Each year thounsands of players are released so that clubs can keep on an even financial keel and avoid a repeat of the ITV digital collapse two years ago. Yesterday one-time Premiership club Bradford City put all their squad up for sale, including ex-Wanderer Nicky Summerbee in a bid to save money following their relegation from Division One, the second time the Bantams have had to follow such a route since their demise from the top flight.

For many seasoned professionals such as Summerbee this can often open up the door of opportunity elsewhere in a lower division but for other players it can mean a change in vocation and a move away from football completely. Granted they get well paid for what they do and the lifestyle is everything that a working class person builds up to but if football is all they know then it can be hard to take on the role of something else which is away from the beautful game.

Last year ex-Wanderer John O'Kane who was once mixing with the likes of Beckham, Scholes, Neville and Butt in the Manchester United youth team, took up a role in property developement following his release by Second Division Blackpool, he did however miss the football bug and was snapped up by local Unibond League side Hyde United where he quickly became a fans favourite and captained the club to the championship.

This year people such as Gareth Farrelly, Delroy Facey, John Salako and Mark Patterson will have to look for new clubs having been released at the end of the season, for Patterson it could mean a return to coaching or management elsewhere having held the nessacery qualifications but for the other three, all of whom have Premiership experience, it is the beginning of a long hard search for new clubs.

The youth teams of clubs nowadays make it compulsary for their players to learn a trade so if they are released at the end of their apprenticeship they will have some other work to fall back on. Soon a new apprenticeship scheme is being launched to replace the old scholarship system and although less beneficial clubs are hoping it will still have the same integration with education as the old system did. For older players they tend to look to coaching in a bid to get into management or for people who's careers where curtailed through injury they tend to do agency and administration work. Peter Morrison, a trainee at Bolton from 1998 to 2000 moved to Scunthorpe United and had to retire through injury at the age of 21 following a bad tackle, he is now doing some work as a football agent to enable other players to get the best out of their footballing career.

But it isn't all a success story as people such as Nigel Jemson found out last summer. A veteran 17 year career that included a short spell on loan to Bolton came to an end following Shrewsbury Town's relegation to the Nationwide Conference and he has since found it hard to stick in the game he has served for so long which proves the point that May is certainly not a good month to be a footballer.