By Jason McKeown
On Saturday morning, as Kyel Reid continued to comes to terms with his long road to recovery from a serious knee injury picked up at Bramall Lane last weekend, he was greeted by what might have begun as a well-intentioned article from the Telegraph & Argus’ Simon Parker, but which ultimately held very worrying implications for the Bradford City wideman.
Whilst rightfully paying tribute to Reid’s efforts in claret and amber and highlighting the very real possibility that the winger will never play for City again, Parker’s piece twice hinted that the 26-year-old might be cut adrift by the club in the summer – which would likely be some time before he has completed his rehabilitation.
I would hope that Parker’s blunt article is purely his own view not shared by the club’s management. But with the journalist understandably enjoying a very close relationship with the club, doubts have to be expressed about how speculative he was being. Simon has written many, many excellent pieces over the years and I’m sure I’m not the only writer to improve their own skills from reading his work, but the tone of this article surprised me.
“His medical bills and recuperation will be funded by the club for the remaining five months he is on the Valley Parade payroll. But then comes the dilemma.” noted Parker, before boldly stating Reid will not be offered a new contract during the summer, when his present deal expires. “No football club will put a deal in front of a player facing up to such a long spell in casualty. It sounds harsh but that is simply throwing good money after bad.”
Firstly, Simon, that does not sound harsh: it sounds downright cruel. The idea that Reid – who in two-and-a-half-years at the club has provided great service and helped his employer to progress greatly – be described as “bad money” is a horrible and unnecessary way of putting it.
Kyel Reid is not some millionaire footballer – this is his livelihood at stake. I can still picture Kyel celebrating promotion on the Wembley pitch with his baby, last May, after a man-of-the-match display. He deserves better than to be dubbed “bad money”.
Which is not to suggest that the club should be obliged to award Reid a new contract when his fitness is in serious doubt – but the idea that we might cut him adrift in the summer is hugely troubling. By reporting that Reid’s medical bills and recuperation will be funded by the club for the remaining five months is to hint strongly that, at the point his deal runs out, such medical support will be withdrawn. You’re on your own, Kyel.
Is this really acceptable? That, Reid, who may then be close to recovery but still with a way to go, be left to fend for himself?
Bradford City Football Club does not owe Kyel a living, but given the player has been injured in action for us (and, as an aside, was one of only a few players giving his all for the club’s cause during that dismal first half against Sheffield United), he deserves to be fully supported in his recovery.
Consider the case of Lewis Emanuel, who was recently sentenced to prison for his part in an armed robbery. Emanuel – a former City youth trainee – had moved on to Luton but suffered a bad injury just as his contract expired. Those close to Lewis say that the cash-strapped Hatters refused to pay for his rehabilitation and the player was unable to fully recover, with a career cut short. That in no way excuses the path he has since taken, but would at least explain how it began.
It is a completely different situation with Reid and City, but for everything he has done for the club he deserves our support getting his career back on track. Not at City as such – I have no problem with the idea of not renewing his contract, and ultimately his family commitments could mean he would rather move on anyway – but to get back to fitness and being able to find himself another club.
In the same piece Parker chooses to highlight Omar Daley’s similarly lengthy injury in 2009 and suggests that the Jamaican’s “top speed had dipped” upon his return. For some reason Parker failed to mention this about Daley at the time, but even if that was really the case with Daley (and I’m not sure it was) he still made valuable contributions to City after his injury and has continued to enjoy a decent career, befitting his ability. I don’t know why Parker needs to suggest that Reid might not make a full recovery – but regardless, a full recovery will only happen if he gets the right help.
With five months on his deal to run, there is absolutely no reason for any decisions to be made regarding Reid’s future. The club should be closely monitoring how he has progressed over that time and then make an informed decision in May. If they decide it’s not worth the risk of a new contract – or want to look elsewhere anyway – then fine. But does that mean he loses his medical support from the club also? I appreciate that it is an expense that no one wants, with those at Valley Parade correctly watching the pennies. But Kyel didn’t want to be injured either. It’s human decency.
I’d personally hope that Reid is given a week-to-week contract or at least allowed to remain around Valley Parade, unpaid, until he is fit enough to play football, benefitting from our medical support to get there. He can then either be trialled by Parkinson to see if he is worth re-signing, or sent on his way with every chance to continue his career. I’d hope that the powers that be at Valley Parade see it that way too.
Parker concludes, “Calls to offer Reid another deal regardless are well intentioned. In an ideal world, that would be the next step to provide a timely boost at his lowest ebb. But in the cold business world of football, that won’t happen.” Supporters still upset about Nahki Wells’ defection to Huddersfield might argue this is accurate, but if loyalty is of any value, it must work both ways. City have a chance to demonstrate just that, by helping him to rescue his career.
Kyel Reid’s football future might lie elsewhere, but first of all Bradford City have a duty to ensure Kyel Reid has a football future.