It’s Friday, it must be…
The first weekend off until the 5th August (or 4th if we get Wrexham and Sky pick it up), and one would hope it starts calming down a bit now.
It’s funny how the last game of the season just gone was on Monday, which at the time of writing was a mere four days ago.
I’m not sure if it feels a long time ago, or whether it was (almost literally) yesterday. But that’s what this last nine months has done.
Your editor will be about to attempt the usual thoughts of the season crap from next week onwards, which should get me a medal.
Until then, we have had news. Sort of, anyway.
The much anticipated release list was, er, released less than 24 hours after we returned from Blundell Park.
You’ve read it by now, and digested it long before you’ve read here.
Those gone aren’t any surprise – all the loanees returning, Gunter’s retirement and even those straightforwardly let go aren’t anyone you’d cry about going.
Maybe the youngsters mentioned might raise some eyebrows, but they won’t be the only ones released from L2 clubs this week.
It’s football, after all.
It’s those listed under the ominously titled “Players Under Contract” that is still far too long for the collective liking.
Some names are on there that are deflating to read, but there is the most important caveat right down the bottom, courtesy our current manager:
“As ever, discussions are also ongoing with a number of contracted players as regards to the Club’s direction and their role for next season as we look to shape the squad to give us the best chance of success on the field.”
The club gets a lot wrong, and much if not most of what it does is self-inflicted. But in this instance I have a bit of sympathy for them.
Some of our supporters convinced themselves that when Craig Cope said it would be “ruthless” they expected it to happen immediately.
And a few laid into AFCW soon after the list was announced because it didn’t match their flawed interpretation of what will happen.
Anyone with a basic understanding of contract law would have read what JJ said above and at least nodded in some agreement.
We’re all fucked off with the way AFCW does things, but some really need to wind their neck in…
But yes, you can’t disagree with removing more from that contracted list. We’ve got rid of the low hanging fruit, and now the hard discussions start.
First things first – there’s nineteen players currently under contract. Five of those (Bartley, Campbell, Hallard, Mason and Sutcliffe) are likely to go back on loan anyway.
So that’s fourteen in next season’s squad already.
We can safely assume Zach Robinson is gone, and perhaps Jack Currie will be sold too. I’d miss the latter but not the former.
There’s rumours about Bendle and the Bulgarian Kiwi as well, and if they depart that’s a squad of nineteen down to barely a starting XI.
Though JJ this morning believes Tzanev and Broome will be fighting it out for the goalie jersey next season. I wonder if that will come to pass?
It’s the ones that you really want rid of that will require the negotiating skills. Especially if what Andy Thorn says about Craig Cope is true.
That means Woodyard, Brown, and Nightingale for starters, and if we could even get shot of two of them – it becomes a very good transfer window.
Alas, there’s pesky things called “contracts” and “employment law”, and I bet most of you know what happens if a company breaches that…
So, how to go about it? Actually, there’s a number of ways, which get listed below in order of preference, although this might not necessarily be the order in which we do it.
The best option of the lot is selling a player. They get off our wage bill, doesn’t cost us any money and indeed we might even get some cash back.
This might happen, especially as there’s a number of south east clubs in the National League, and remember – when we were last in the Conference we would have creamed ourselves at a player who used to be in L1/L2.
Failing that, there’s the option of a loan out. While we’ll have to pay some wages, it’s quite a common thing to do when you’ve got a senior player you can’t shift but want out.
Again, a National League side might be quite tempted with Woodyard, or Brown, or even Nightingale, and to me this may be the most likely option.
If that doesn’t work, then it starts getting a little messier. And this is where payoffs come into play.
If a player/agent gets the hint they’re not wanted, then getting their contract paid up might be tempting.
Whether they’d want to go into the free agency market and potentially not get picked up at all remains to be seen, and it’s not nailed on they’ll accept it.
Assuming all that fails, and they’re with us again next season, then what? Then they would become squad players, only venturing out for sub appearances and ex-JPT games.
It drains the wage bill, and would further antagonise an already pissed-off fanbase.
In this instance the players we get in are vital. They are anyway, but would the likes of Woodyard et al want to stick around if they’ll be bit-part at best?
One shouldn’t expect immediate responses to any contract negotiations, there will be agents and our own lawyers in deep discussions with each other.
The transfer window opens on the 10th June, apparently, so you may not hear anything for the next four weeks.
And no, I don’t expect people to be patient over news…
Before we leave for the weekend, I see the club released a transcript of the Fans Forum, which went down with some as well as you think.
Personally, I think a transcription was sufficient in the first place, and if the club had any sense it would just state it’ll do that in future.
Yeah, I know.
Actually, I found this voodoo poll on the 9Years Twatter feed interesting, because I think it sums up the general attitude right now.
Many are angry, but more just don’t care. Apathy or weariness, it doesn’t matter.
For AFCW, even in this close season, that’s not a good situation to be in. They’re getting pelters almost daily now, but nobody is rushing in to support them.
No, I don’t have any sympathy. Sowing and reaping springs to mind.
It brings home the need for some big wins this summer though. Maybe getting shot of some of the bed blockers in the squad (and perhaps some more in the club itself) will help?
AFCW itself is stating (or admitting) it needs to actually engage with its own supporters now, even in terms of its future funding.
For a club that pompously preens “We are fans, we are owners” then treats any actual engagement as a hostile act, that’s a welcome step.
A small step, and I don’t trust AFCW to listen if people say something it doesn’t like, but it’s a welcome one.
It’s a shame that we’ve had to let things get to this point to start doing what we should have done five years ago. Or a decade, or even fifteen years prior.
Organisational culture is a lot harder to turn around than you think, and this won’t be easy.
But if the last 24 months manages to change the all round attitude, it will be worth it…