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Archived News from August 2002

4th August 2002 17:45

Cash crisis leaves Christie in fear of an 'ordinary job'

Denis Campbell
Sunday August 4, 2002
The Observer

For nine years, Iyseden Christie has done the only thing he's ever wanted to do: play football. But now he has no club and no income, and has become one of the hundreds of victims of the Football League's deepening financial crisis.
Last season the 25-year-old striker was earning £50,000-a-year at Leyton Orient. Now his options are taking a pay cut just to stay in the game or learning a new skill to help him get 'an ordinary job'. As things stand he has little chance of being involved when the new League season kicks off in six days' time, and that prospect is hurting badly.
'This summer has been the worst time of my football career, even including the cruciate injury I suffered two years ago, which led to me being out of the game for 18 months,' said Christie. 'At least then I had a contract. Now I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to play again.'
Christie is typical of the 650 footballers who are now out of contract and having a real struggle finding a new club as cost-cutting envelops not just the lower divisions but the Premier League too. At £50,000-a-year he can scarcely be accused of being overpaid.
'I got £40,000-a-year when I joined Orient from Mansfield in 1999, £45,000 the year after and £50,000 last year. I got my last salary from Orient last Wednesday and now have no money coming in to cover my rent, run my car or pay for the upkeep of my two boys,' said the Coventry-born player. The summer has been desperately frustrating for him.
'Bristol Rovers got me and my agent down for a talk. They said they'd ring us back, but never did. Then I trained for three weeks with Rushden and Diamonds, but they decided they didn't want me.'
His status as 'a Bosman free' didn't help. He is now back at Mansfield, and played in their friendly against Derby last Tuesday. They may, or may not, offer him a deal. If they do, it will be for less than the £50,000 he was getting in east London. If they do, he will take it and count his blessings.
'Orient are probably the best payers in the Third Division, along with Hull City and Rushden and Diamonds. Outside those three, plenty of players in the Third Division earn only £500 or £600 a week,' said Christie. 'It's amazing, when you think that lots of players now make 50 grand a week .'
If nothing turns up, the forward may end up doing the same as an increasing number of League stalwarts and dropping down to ply his trade in the Conference. With the growing professionalism of many of the non-League set-ups, and the decent money on offer, there is less shame than before involved in doing that - and promotion may follow anyway.
League of Ireland side Shelbourne Rovers are keen to sign him, at least on an initial one-month contract to see if he adapts to Dublin. But they, too, would pay much less than £50,000. 'Money's important but it's not the most important thing to me just now,' said Christie. 'I just want the chance to play again. I don't want to have to do an ordinary job.'



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