The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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200 players may remain jobless

London: Up to 200 players out of 586 discarded by English Premier and Football League clubs at the end of their contracts could still be out of work next season, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said on Monday.

“We could lose a third of the 586,” PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said on the Football League’s official sponsors website after the announcement of the players being released.

“Our job is to try to get them fixed up but I’d be pleased if two-thirds stayed. People talk about players’ salaries but are not as eager to look at the insecurity of the profession.”

Middlesbrough’s Croatian striker Alen Boksic, Liverpool’s Czech midfielder Patrick Berger, Derby County’s Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli and Arsenal’s FA Cup-winning Ukraine defender Oleg Luzhny are among the big names let go by their clubs.

The number of out-of-contract players released this summer has risen by five percent, prompting PFA deputy chief executive Mick McGuire to tell the union’s official website: “In what other industry is 20 percent of its workforce technically out of work at the end of each year'”

“Whilst we constantly read about the multi million pound plus deals of the Premiership elite who have the security of four or five-year contracts, the fact remains that 75 per cent of our members play in the Football League and a great many of those are playing with no longer security than a one, or at best, two-year contract.

“However, we can’t make a true appraisal of the whole situation until we see the numbers who re-sign and those that remain out of work.

“Many of the players on the list, and there are some notable names on it too, will be signed up by new clubs and, hopefully, their futures will be sorted out long before the start of the new season.”

Clubs have had to tighten their belts as increased players’ wages and a drop in television income outside the Premier League has forced big cuts in playing staffs and transfer fees with a number of clubs having already been forced into administration.

McGuire pointed to some positive developments in the game, however, especially the expanding Conference division. “It’s worth remembering that whereas two years ago there were only 10 full-time clubs in the Conference, last year there were 14 and there could now be as many as 16 and that therefore gives more of our members in the league greater opportunities for employment,” he said.

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