THE number of players on the transfer list section of the Professional Footballers’ Association website is as lengthy as it is worrying this summer.
Anyone choosing to log on will see 18 pages dedicated to footballers under the section ‘out of contract’ – with the list topping 500 names.
All are now effectively out of work and in the job market like countless others in different professions across the country.
The term ‘out of work’ represents a mere technicality for the cream of the crop on the list, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Samuel Eto’o, Joe Cole, Joleon Lescott and Gareth Barry hardly likely to have any sleepless nights regarding their next port of call and pay days.
For many others in the Football League, where cutbacks are commonplace and lengths of contract are often two years at best due to an uncertain financial climate, it is a time to sweat, especially for those with young families.
Plenty of football supporters will point out that salaries earned in the previous seasons will have cushioned the fiscal blows for players who have been freed.
But for the average journeyman footballer, the reality is slightly different in what remains an insecure profession.
The sight of their names on the free list may not unduly alarm those who have experienced that sensation before and have then found new employers.
But it is slightly more intimidating for younger players making their way in the game.
The PFA list, effectively a footballing ‘clearing house’, has been in place for over 20 years and player profiles on it are circulated to all clubs in the UK and abroad.
Among it are the majority of the players released by Yorkshire’s clubs at the end of the season, with Barnsley’s freed list the most extensive at 14.
Their number includes the likes of Kelvin Etuhu, Patrick McCourt, Martin Woods, Emmanuel Frimpong and Liam Lawrence, with the names of senior players on the lists of other White Rose clubs considerable.
They include Hull City club captain Robbie Koren, a former captain of Slovenia, and other instantly-recognisable names such as Leeds United duo El-Hadji Diouf and Michael Brown, along with one-time England international Anthony Gardner, of Sheffield Wednesday.
Reda Johnson and Jermaine Johnson are also part of the eight-strong contingent freed by Owls and that figure is equalled across the city at Sheffield United.
Headline name on the Bradford City list is Gary Jones, who has led the Bantams so admirably for the past two seasons, captaining them with distinction in their remarkable run to the final of the Capital One Cup in 2012-13 when he also steered City to promotion.
That was a season when he was named as the player of the year at Valley Parade and recognised by his peers in the League Two Team of the Year.
Just over a year on, he is on the lookout for pastures new.
Another West Yorkshire noteworthy on the list is redoubtable Huddersfield Town captain Peter Clarke.
The Southport-born centre-back led Town for most of his five seasons at the club.
He experienced the pain of play-off final defeat, but also the ecstacy of promotion by the same route at Wembley, in the climax to the 2011-12 campaign when he captained the club to glory.
The following season, he arguably sampled an equally joyous high in playing a pivotal role in Town’s final-day escape from relegation in a never-to-be-forgotten denouement against Barnsley at the John Smith’s Stadium in May 2013.
Clarke leaves Huddersfield with plenty of joyous memories, but also a certain sense of regret in not being afforded the chance to finish out his playing days at the club he represented as a standard bearer both on and off the pitch during his time there which earned him the respect of team-mates and supporters alike.
Clarke has already been linked with a move to promoted Fleetwood, but is the first to admit that in an ideal world he would still be at Huddersfield.
On his departure, the 32-year-old, player of the year at Town in 2009–10 and 2010–11, told The Yorkshire Post: “I’m bitterly disappointed, to be honest. My hope was that I would finish my playing days there – but, unfortunately, that is not the case.
“But as the saying goes, as one door closes, another one opens.
“Everyone wants to play at the highest level they possibly can and I am no different and personally I want to play as long as I possibly can at the highest level.
“We’ll see what the summer brings and take it from there.
“I am also on a coaching course to progress with my qualifications and that’s there in my mind as well.
“Going back as far as last summer, there was an indication from the club that there would possibly be a contract extension. Unfortunately, that has never come to pass.
“I had been at the club for five years and was very settled and enjoyed my football at a good place.
“From a personal point of view, before I got injured, I played every minute of all the league games and I think I was the only outfield player to do that, at that time.”
Clarke added: “Time moves on and everything comes to an end, but I do have some fantastic memories from my time at Huddersfield. I made some great friends and there were some wonderful people there.
“Obviously, it was every schoolboy’s dream to play at Wembley (in 2011-12) and I was no different, and to lead out my team at Wembley against Sheffield United, score a penalty and lift the trophy as captain is something I am immensely proud of.
“It’s something that, when you think back, puts a smile on your face.”