PETERBOROUGH United’s attempts to sign Sam Baldock are dominating our headlines at the moment, but not every footballer is fortunate enough to see his face on the back pages with such regularity. In fact, it’s that time of the year again when hundreds of pros are battling just to find a club for the new season, let alone have two fighting over them.
The national football headlines have been dominated by Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson making cross-Premier League moves for a combined transfer fee of only slightly less than their combined age... in millions of course.
Henderson moves from Sunderland to Liverpool and Jones from Blackburn to Manchester United, but although staggering, those sort of transfers are actually the exception to the rule, with the bottom end of English football’s professional game definitely not so glamorous.
The vast majority of transfer deals that go through this summer will involve no fee at all, with clubs clambering to try and snap up the best unattached players on the market after the ‘release period’ of early June.
Players with two of three-year contracts can look forward to their end-of-season holidays safe in the knowledge that they will be employed again come July. But for those nearing the end of their deals, the early summer brings anxiousness as they await that dreaded call into the manager’s office to be informed of their fate.
While the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United can afford to spend a reported 17 and £20 million respectively on teenagers, the reality for lower league clubs is that budgets will have to be cut and squads made subsequently smaller – inevitably meaning more out of contract players left on the scrap heap.
A quick look at the Professional Football Association’s transfer list tells the whole unforgiving story. You can spend hours scrolling through names of old pros who you didn’t even realise were still playing, and the teenagers you have never heard of still hanging on to their dreams of making it. Young or old, the one thing they all have in common is that they’re desperate to find a club. Unfortunately the prospects for those over the age of 30 and under the age of 20 seem to be particularly bleak, and you fear for the futures of some as the close season drags on.
While Peterborough seemingly continue their pursuit of Baldock, there are several former Dons players who have recently joined the list of out-of-work pros. Drewe Broughton, Gareth Edds and Lee Harper are all familiar names from the past now left with uncertain futures in the game, while Nathan Abbey, Alan Navarro, Carl Regan and Miguel Llera are more recent former players now left looking for new clubs after being told they won’t be getting new deals.
Former loan players Mark Randall, Michael McIndoe and Martin Devaney are also available, while Mark Carrington – who only left Dons for Scottish Premier League side Hamilton in February – has now found himself available on a free transfer after Accies were relegated.
Carrington fought to be released from his contract at stadium:mk after boss Karl Robinson couldn’t give him the guarantee of first team football that he wanted, but now he joins the likes of Sean O’Hanlon in searching for options.
O’Hanlon should have no trouble in finding another League One or Two club, but football is a very unforgiving profession, and for that reason it’s hard to begrudge the likes of Jones and Henderson for earning a good living while they can.