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.
I would imagine at this level insurance will be in place for club & player? As regards Simon Parkers article I never read his articles.
he’s more interesting in sucking upto the powers that be than giving his readers more information.
Yes would assume that there is some sort of insurance for footballers to help support them through injuries. And as for Parker, he is the reporter with the ‘exclusive’ news story that is second hand news. His reports always suck up to the owners. The Nahki Wells episode was a classic case. For a change he could have angled the story from a supporters perspective. However, every report was designed to be on the defensive to please the owners. There will always be some questions that could be answered regarding the Wells saga (e.g. was he tapped up?) but we will never get them because rightly or wrongly he doesn’t want to step on egg shells and fallout with the powers that be at City. If it meant he would be out of a job, then understandably he does as the club says. However, the club should not be abusing their power in such a way that makes the owners look a little like dictators and controlling the press. After all we live in a democratic society and we the fans should be allowed more information when it appears some secrets are kept within house, in what seems to be a method to protect the powers that be in charge of the club.
Worth balancing this comment out by stating there is no evidence that the club are controlling the press or that Simon is sucking up to the owners. Simon has a job to do and in the main does that very, very well. His responsibility is to his employer (the T&A) and clearly covering Bradford City is a big thing for newspaper sales/website hits. As part of his job he has to maintain a positive relationship with the club. That potentially might compromise what he can and cannot report on at times, but I don’t think that it means they are dictating what he is saying. The Nahki situation was an emotional one for everyone, but as a reporter Simon could only cover the facts that were in the public domain.
One would think the club doesn’t need this cruel reality being presented at this current time. Parker is a two bob writer, who doesn’t ever report anything but garbage.
I seem to recall the club once removing a T&A sports writer many many years ago for similar propaganda. Great piece once again Jason, maybe you should take him on as a YTS.
Thank you to those who have submitted comments.
I have taken the decision to close the comments on this article beyond the ones that came through so far. This mainly because I have a very poorly daughter to attend to and I am going to struggle to monitor comments, but also I am not looking to instigate or encourage a witch-hunt against Simon Parker. Clearly he is not to everyone’s taste, but he doesn’t deserve personal abuse and Width of a Post is not the home for that type of thing.
I was keen to write this article on Reid because I think it’s the right thing to do to stand up for the player during a very difficult time.