Port Vale’s John Askey on EFL problems and advice for out-of-contract players



Port Vale manager John Askey says making plans for next season is desperately difficult as clubs wait to see when football could return.

Vale know their 2019/20 campaign is over after League Two clubs agreed to abandon the remaining games and settle positions on points per game of matches played so far.

That done, the Vale issued their retained list, releasing six players and offering contracts to a further seven whose deals are due to run out at the end of June.

The squad world normally report back for pre-season training at the start of July, but that is on hold until clubs have some idea of when the next season can take place.

The manager explained: “As regards preparing for next season, we just have to wait. It is the hardest thing sometimes to wait and do nothing.

“I have said to the players that we will look at starting in the beginning of July as we would normally, but that could change.

“The biggest problem clubs have got is that, if we do start training, everybody has to come off furlough. But if we come off furlough, and games don’t start until November, the clubs can’t afford to do that.

“So it could be a long time before we are training.”

In the meantime, the manager has been researching players and looking at potential signings, but he added: “It is hard because we can’t really discuss money because we don’t know where we will be as a club.

“We don’t know when football will start back so, although I am talking to agents and players, nothing can be finalised.

“So, it is just making the players and agents aware that we are interested in them.  Hopefully, when things do get back to some normality, we can then start talking about signing.”

The majority of League Two clubs have now issued their retained lists, confirming which players are being offered deals and which are being released.

Vale’s owners have enabled the club to make seven contract offers, despite not knowing when next season could start.

The manager says he would advise any players to sign in the current climate.

He said: “I would be surprised if the majority of them didn’t agree, especially under the circumstances.

“My advice, whether it was my son, a player or whoever, would be at the moment, if somebody offers you something then take it, because there are going to be a lot of players out of work.

“You are in a fortunate position if you have been offered something.”

Askey has turned Vale from relegation candidates when he was appointed in February 2019, to being just one point outside the play-off places when the season was halted in mid-March.

Clubs couldn’t afford to carry on the season and, although the manager was disappointed about missing out on the chance of promotion, he says that has to be put into context considering the suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “The players have worked hard and everybody has got behind the club this season, it is frustrating we have not been able to finish it off and it doesn’t look as though we are going to be able to.

“These opportunities don’t always come along, we were getting stronger as the season went on and, with the form that we were in, we would have expected to get in the play offs.

“It is disappointing from that point of view but in the grand scheme of everything, it is not as important as what has been going on and what will happen in the world.”





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