Saturday, July 12, 2014

My kingdom for a Retained List!

As you'll probably be aware, my quest this summer has been to keep on top of all player arrivals and departures in the SPFL, and to focus specifically on the activities of each Scottish Premiership club over the summer.

It's proven to be harder than it sounded.

But that isn't my fault.  The main obstacle is, unquestionably, the lack of information coming out of some clubs.  Particularly galling is the fact that several lower league clubs are far better at communicating with fans than some of the largest in the country - amongst those who deserve commendations are Dumbarton, Stenhousemuir and Albion Rovers.

In England, Football League clubs are required to publish Retained Lists at the end of a season, which confirm which players are staying on, and whether out of contract players have been offered new deals or not.  This is a helpful and useful resource...so, typically, the SPFL doesn't bother with them.

So, for the best part of two months, I've been keeping my lists up to date the best I can.  I feel I can claim that they are the most accurate ones you'll find - certainly a million times better than the BBC website's.  And therefore I feel now is the time to slag off certain Premiership clubs about the lack of info they give out, and to laud others.

So, here are the twelve teams, ranked from worst to first on how easy it is to work out who is playing for them, and who isn't!

12. KILMARNOCK
So, has William Gros left or not? He signed a three year contract last summer, but has been removed from the squad list on the club website and was reported to be on trial at Oldham.  So I reckon he's gone.  But, two months after fans suggested on a forum that he might have left, there has been nothing official.  The status of Jeroen Tesselaar and Alexei Eremenko is completely unclear as well.  And has Mark O'Hara signed a new contract or what?  Nobody outside Rugby Park knows; I wonder whether folk inside Rugby Park know either.  I took advantage of the club's #AskKillie drive a couple of weeks ago to email and ask.  Surprise, surprise, there was no answer.  Fail.

11. ROSS COUNTY
Several players appear to still be at the club, despite newspaper reports as early as June that they were out of contract.  Meanwhile, a few appear to have left (most notably Graham Carey) despite previous indications that they were signed up till next summer.  County haven't announced contract lengths for some of their new signings either.  And, most embarrassingly, they did announce a new deal for Ben Gordon...only for the player to join Colchester United before he'd actually signed it.  Oops.

10. MOTHERWELL
James McFadden's exit was high profile and got plenty of coverage.  As for other players who left...well, I was only able to work that out when the club announced their squad numbers last week!  And goodness knows how long most of their young players are under contract for.

9. CELTIC
For a club of their size, you'd think it would have been easier.  But apart from the departure of Georgios Samaras, I had sweet bugger all to work with.  Most journalists reported the likes of Darnell Fisher to be out of contract, yet he presumably signed a new deal since he's on their pre-season tour.  I only worked out that Bahrudin Atajic is still at the club through translating an interview to a Swedish website.  A lot of educated guesses were required here.

8. ST MIRREN
A mixed bag, this, as player departures were announced on several different occasions, rather than all in one go.  But at least contract lengths are all publicized, and the official website had several updates from new manager Tommy Craig regarding the likes of Chris Dilo (who eventually left) and Kenny MacLean (who eventually stayed).

7. DUNDEE UNITED
No difficulties here, other than having to wait till contracts expired for confirmation of player releases.

6. DUNDEE
The club website was swift to announce signings and departures, though they understandably waited until contracts expired before confirming that players were not staying.  It also helps that the Evening Telegraph and Dundee Courier regularly reported on developments.

5. INVERNESS CT
Caley Thistle had signed up pretty much their whole squad already, and announced which young players were leaving before the season even ended.  The only uncertainty was over the fate of Ben Greenhalgh; though his release seemed certain, it wasn't confirmed until the start of July, presumably because this was when his contract expired.

4. ST JOHNSTONE
The Perth Saints were quick to confirm which players were exiting and which players had been offered new deals.

3. ABERDEEN
This was straightforward - every player's contract length was easy to fin out, and they announced player departures as soon as the season was over.

2. PARTICK THISTLE
The club website announced the contract status of every single player as early as 15 May...including youth players I'd never even heard of.  So kudos to them.  Though I don't know if all those youth players signed their contracts or not.

1. HAMILTON ACADEMICAL
Top of the class.  I'm sufficiently geeky to have emailed Accies to check whether a couple of their youngsters were under contract for next season or not...and incredibly I got a reply from club secretary Scott Struthers clarifying this for me.  If that doesn't sound sufficiently awesome, bear in mind that the previous day I'd had an email stating that he was away on holiday.  Mr Struthers, I salute you!

L.

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