The Irish League floodgates won’t spring open in a similar fashion to the game in England but there’s no doubt the movement of players will increase in the post-Covid-19 landscape.
A new hardship fund has been set up, reflecting the new financial realities clubs must address.
And when budgets and bank balances are studied, players will be deemed surplus to requirements.
The postponement of football for more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic has left players worrying about their futures, and some, like Linfield duo Chris Casement and Josh Robinson, have already been released.
Across the water, there are estimated to be some 1,400 players who will be out of contract in the EFL after June 30.
And the frustration for players is that they have been forced to play a waiting game, not knowing when their futures can be resolved.
The government’s furlough scheme has been used to cover wages, but the players who hope to be in Irish Cup action next month will need to step off it for a few weeks.
Now the league season has been curtailed, clubs want to plan for the future but there is no indication how the next campaign will be impacted and what income will be gained in gate receipts. What’s certain is that the clubs will take a financial hit and the players aren’t immune from the cutbacks.
Their problem is that they can’t go anywhere... just yet.
All professional contracts fall under remit of the Irish FA and, as the season has been extended from the previous date of May 31 to July 31, clubs cannot register or sign players until that time.
For the three sides competing in the Champions League or Europa League qualifiers in August, it’s a short window of opportunity to add players to their squads.
Crusaders defender Sean Ward, whose contract has expired, admits it’s a strange feeling when players haven’t been able to plan ahead.
“Players don’t like being out of contract,” said the former Linfield and Glentoran ace. “I’ve never enjoyed one-year deals but, at the same time, you are always trying to prove yourself.
“Players enjoy the comfort of knowing they have got something for next year. Others are totally unsure of what is happening and don’t know when the league will start again. Some players are financially dependent on the football while others aren’t.
“It’s a complex situation as no one knows what will happen. When will next season start?
“Clubs will also want to know that if there are few fans at the games how are they going to generate income? The clubs rely on fans coming through the gate.”
There’s no escaping the cutbacks that clubs are going to have to implement and Crues chairman Ronnie Millar expects more players to be on the move.
“I think every club will have to look at their finances and they will have to release players,” he said.
“There will be cutbacks because there has been a financial impact and it will extend into next season when the crowds could be smaller.
“Income will be reduced and clubs will have to decide whether they can keep their players on board.
“Perhaps the Irish League will have to go back to a more amateur set-up if the crowds diminish and the money isn’t coming in.
“We invested in the team and facilities with the help of our European qualification but our social club has been closed since March.
“There could be hard times ahead for all clubs. That’s why the hardship fund was created and hopefully it does help clubs.”