BACON / LESS CAN BE MORE IN NON-LEAGUE
LESS CAN BE MORE IN NON-LEAGUE
Evening Post, 27 May 2005
Hucknall Town striker Danny Bacon has turned down a return to professional football with Mansfield Town.
STEVIE RODEN finds why wages alone are sometimes not enough to make league football a must goal for ambitious players who still want security
Rio Ferdinand may be stalling on a new contract with Manchester United, as he holds out for a reported £110,000 a week.
His bank account may be swelling to bursting point with his current £70,000 weekly pay packet.
But more is better and being arguably one of England's best players, he wants the riches to prove it.
After all Chelsea's Frank Lampard and John Terry are already bringing home close to £100,000 every seven days - or £5.2m a year.
However, at the bottom of the ladder in the professional ranks, a whole different dilemma faces players.
The trend in shorter contracts for players in the likes of League Two and incentive-based deals lead to less security for players.
Danny Bacon left Mansfield two years ago for Hucknall in the Unibond Premier League.
He dropped out of professional football in the hope of a regular game and has produced the goods.
He helped fire them to the title last season, and only ground regulations stopped Hucknall progressing to the Conference.
Instead, they had to settle for a place in the newly-revamped Conference North and his goals helped Hucknall to the FA Trophy final at Villa Park last Sunday - only to lose on penalties.
Bacon's contract at Watnall Road is up and he wants to try again at a higher level.
The 24-year-old has been training with Mansfield and boss Carlton Palmer was so impressed, he offered him a return to Field Mill in the form of a one-year deal.
But it was for less money a week than he gets at Hucknall, a place where he only has to train twice a week.
Despite wanting a return to the full-time ranks, the pay cut and thought of not being able to beef up his pay packet with other work have resulted in him turning down the offer.
Bacon said: "I would love to go back but the money is less than I am on at Hucknall.
"Carlton Palmer has got a budget to keep to, so it is not his fault. But I do not think the money is right.
"I have loved my time at Hucknall but at the moment I am keeping my options open.
"I am 24 and not getting any younger and I want to play as high a I can.
"I am keeping myself fit through the summer and see what pans out."
Bacon is one of the highest earners at Hucknall, believed to be on about £300 a week plus bonuses.
The lowest wage is around £100 a week but many have other full-time or part-time jobs to boost their income.
Player-manager Dean Barrick is a PE teacher, Andy Todd a fitness instructor and Chris Timons a firefighter.
The two wages coupled together often equal or even better what a League Two player earns.
And with many players married and with children to feed, the stability of a full-time job on a permanent contract is too good to walk away from.
Although Notts County's top player may earn somewhere in the region of £1,800 a week and Mansfield's more than £1,000, many are on far less.
Palmer has changed some players' contracts from the performance-related ones Keith Curle introduced.
The likes of 20-year-old Jake Buxton may have been financially rewarded when he played, but when he did not, he was on a basic wage.
As a result, he did not have the funds to look for a new car or buy a house.
Buxton said: "On an incentive-led contract, I could not get a car loan or a mortgage.
"They can only take your basic wage into consideration, because that is your only guaranteed income.
"If you play, it is good because the contract is designed around big appearance bonuses, but if you are injured or not selected, you do not get much at all.
"If your basic is really good, then it is okay. But otherwise it is not.
"Now my contract has changed, I can start looking for my first house, otherwise it would have been difficult."
Buxton is still young and after a superb season, he is looking to improve further in the new campaign and has his whole career in front of him.
But for some, settling for the Conference or its North and South divisions, up to two tiers below the professional game, can be a very lucrative option.
The one attraction that puts players off is that crack at making it in the big time, or that second chance. Bacon is still hoping that opportunity comes from either Mansfield or another League Two club in the summer.
But in the meantime, he is not prepared to leave himself out of pocket to go in search of it.
Bacon added: "I will now do what is best because I want to look after my family, so I will see what happens in the summer."
PALMER STUNG OVER CLARE
Evening Post, 27 May 2005
Carlton Palmer says he is surprised that Rob Clare and Danny Bacon have not committed themselves to Mansfield Town this week.
"I am quite shocked that it seems Rob Clare has gone back on our handshake," said the Stags boss.
"Rob shook on a deal to come here two months ago and even came in to meet everyone last week.
"I realise he lives in Stockport and, even if for some reason he had changed his mind, he could have picked up a phone to let me know.
"I have tried to get in touch with him but he has not returned my calls and I can only assume the reports are true and he is going to Stockport.
"But I am not worried. I will just go out and bring in another centre half."
"I am disappointed with Danny as I am giving him an opportunity to get back into league football.
"I understand he's had a better offer from a non-league club and I will just have to think about my next move with him.
"You've got Chris Beardsley hanging around at Kidderminster, waiting to take a pay cut and come back here and yet Danny changed his mind."
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