It only took a couple of weeks but the euphoria of winning the JJB Sports Premiership title has been dampened at Glentoran by suggestions that the club are suffering serious financial problems.
The club’s huge debts have been widely reported for a number of years but the situation, it seems, has taken a turn for the worse.
Aside from the decision to trim the squad, which was not totally unexpected, it is believed that the players were told on Thursday night that they will not receive bonuses that had been promised for winning the title and reaching the final of the Setanta Sports Cup this year.
The players have also been asked to take a 10 per cent pay cut.
Five names — Ryan Berry, Philip Carson, Philip Simpson, Jamie McGovern and most surprisingly, 2007/08 player of the year Jason Hill — have been placed on the transfer list, while BJ McMenamin and young striker Peter Steele have been released.
Colin Nixon, a mainstay in the Glens team for over a decade and the club’s record appearance maker and Dean Fitzgerald, one of the stand-out performers in the title winning team last season, are currently also out of contract and it remains to be seen whether or not they will remain at the champions.
Those players who have been made available to other clubs shouldn’t find too much difficulty in securing a team for next season — if, of course, they decide that they will leave. As they are under contract for at least another season, there is nothing stopping them from staying put.
But the vultures around the JJB Sports Premiership are ready to pounce.
Carson nearly joined Ballymena United on loan during the January transfer window and Roy Walker is sure to show an interest in the tough-tackling midfielder.
Simpson, a former Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Young Player of the Year, could also follow Carson to the Braid with United needing a central defender to cover the departure of Albert Watson.
Hill will have no shortage of offers either — his versatility in playing anywhere up the left side or indeed in his most natural position up front, coupled with the fact that he is one of the hardest working players at Glentoran, will have a number of clubs clambering for his signature.
Berry has been a bit-part player this season but built up enough of a reputation in previous years to make sure he won’t be waiting by his phone too long, while pacey McGovern has impressed sporadically, more so in right midfield, than right back but a solid run in the first team could be the making of him.