Is four Bradford City players departing a sign of problems to come for all clubs?

Bradford City have reacted to the uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis by sending three loan players back to their parent clubs and releasing Dylan Mottley-Henry.

RELEASED: Dylan Mottley-Henry

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The departures of Mottley-Henry, Callum Cooke, Dylan Connolly and Jamie Devitt are the clearest sign yet of the problems facing the clubs if the 2019-20 season has to be extended.

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Since leagues worldwide were put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, governing bodies have been looking for solutions to the problems of players who are on loan, or out of contract in the summer.

Typically, playing contracts extend until June 30, but lower down the pyramid, it can be sooner.

The regular League Two season was due to have ended last weekend, and these contracts reflected that.

This is not the Bantams simply taking advantage to cut adrift players they do not want. All four started their more recent league match, at Salford City on March 7.

Connolly made 22 league starts this season and Cooke 18. They will return to Wimbledon and Peterborough United respectively, while Devitt has been on loan from Blackpool.

Leeds-born former Bradford Park Avenue, Barnsley and Harrogate Town midfielder Mottley-Henry joined on a short-term deal in January, making seven appearances, four from the start.

Players released at the end of their contracts receive a one-month severance payment, and some lower-league chairmen have suggested this should be used to demand they appear for an extra month, some going as far as to say they should see out the rest of the campaign indefinitely without further payment.

But earlier this month a top sports lawyer warned The Yorkshire Post such demands would be unenforceable under English law without the agreement of the players, and it is hard to see why they would agree to risk injury and potentially covid-19 infection to play for free for a club with no intention of keeping them next season.

Rather than wait in hope of a solution while their financial situation continues to worsen, Bradford have acted.

“Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the remainder of the 2019-20 season and its conclusion, Bradford City is in no position to extend the aforementioned deals indefinitely,” said a statement.

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