Date:Friday July 16 2010
Barnsley Football Club's decision to publicly announce the acquisition of Michael Boulding's services free of charge has split opinion in Barnsley.
One section of supporters are calling it the worst piece of PR in the history of the club whilst others are applauding both Boulding and the club for such a noble approach to the situation.
It has to be said that at 34 years old and with very little Championship experience under his belt, Boulding will have one hell of a task on his hands battling his way into Mark Robins' plans for the new season.
Good on him for the gesture. He could probably have settled for a one year deal at Mansfield Town but instead chose to chance it all on a return to Barnsley, where he scored 10 goals in 27 starts some 5 years ago, with no guarantees and no pay.
If it was a teenage footballer hoping to earn a deal, he would be praised for his belief and ambition, but is this the move of a desperate veteran trying to swing one last deal through before he retires?
Both the club and the player have drawn praise from the Football League for this unprecedented occurance, with Gavin Megaw stating: 'Both the club and the player deserve credit for this arrangement. The player gains a valuable opportunity to earn a contract if successful, and the club gains from a player demonstrating a great attitude and belief in his ability to deliver for Barnsley.'
It's nice to get praise from the League for once, but what we really want as supporters is promising signings. Even if Boulding hadn't played for us before and we could remove whatever judgemental prejudices we have against him, it still wouldn't look like a good move for a club wanting to challenge for the Championship Play-Offs.
That said, there are still no guarantees Boulding will earn a deal. Obviously Mark Robins has seen something in him that's made him want a closer look and, if Mark Robins sees fit to hand Boulding a contract based on his performances, so be it. Robins deserves a chance just as much as Boulding does.
Some supporters have gone so far as to say that this has damaged the club's potential season ticket sales. However, Robins has assured fans that he has other irons in the fire.
Speaking to the club's official site he said: 'I know Michael and he is a player I tried to sign at Rotherham and he deserves this. We are still working hard and pursuing other targets and hopefully more things will start to come together soon.'
In all fairness, this sounds like a bit of nepotism on Mr Robins' part. It's fine to try and sign Boulding for Rotherham but we're Barnsley. We're two leagues higher and no offence to Rotherham, but we should be aiming higher.
Good luck to Boulding. I hope for his sake he earns a deal because it's a bold move in this day and age to put all your eggs in one basket.
Date:Friday July 16 2010
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