With the coronavirus pandemic still very much an ongoing concern for a lot of employers, and with football clubs not exempt from that, the news that Man United are keeping all of their academy players on past this summer will be a huge relief for many.
It’s normal at the end of each season that football club academies will release a number of players at various age levels. A necessary process if not a particularly nice one.
With club finances being stretched further because of the pandemic, players might well have expected a bigger cull than usual, so having the Old Trafford outfit come out so unequivocally in support of all of their young players surely means they can have a relaxing summer without the worry attached of finding a new club.
“We took the decision, whilst people were on lockdown, that it just wasn’t right to release kids from the programme – and actually that we’ve got a role to play in the recovery,” United academy director, Nick Cox told the Press Association, cited by the Daily Mirror.
“And I don’t say recovery lightly. There’s going to be a recovery process here. People have been through trauma. Different people, different levels of trauma.
“Some people won’t have been affected too much. Some people have had a really difficult period of time.
“The football club has a duty to assist and aid young people’s recovery from what they’ve just been through.
“They have been deprived of social interaction, they haven’t been hanging out with their mates, their routine’s gone, their structure’s gone.
“We’ve got a job to do to say ‘hey, at the end of all this come back with a smile on your face, play football, hang out with your mates’.
“So there was no way we were going to release anyone during that period of time and we managed to be consistent with that message right the way through to our very young professionals, or anyone that hadn’t made a senior appearance.”
The situation may also end up benefitting the club in the long term too.
Many players have been released from clubs in the past, only to make it elsewhere. In keeping on their entire youth playing staff for an extra half-season at least, a diamond may appear from the rough whilst still in United’s employment.