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OPINION: Mixed feelings on Spireites departures

Ian Evatt will not have his contract renewed.
Ian Evatt will not have his contract renewed.

The decision by Chesterfield not to renew any expiring contracts has been greeted with mixed responses.

The ‘clean slate’ analogy appears to be the theme of the summer break, once again, but whether that is the correct path entirely is well up for debate.

It perhaps was right that a particular four players – Josh Kay, Jack Brownell, Dylan Parkin and Giles Coke – did not have their contracts extended. As much as we wish them well, it can be safely said that neither possess enough quality to help Chesterfield compete in the National League.

Space does need to be made in the budget to make way for new players who can promise a better season, and so the release of the quartet can be met with somewhat unanimous agreement.

But while that was an understandable decision, what came the day before truly shook and divided the fanbase.

Thousands of hearts could be felt breaking simultaneously when news came of the departure of Ian Evatt, Sam Hird and Drew Talbot, three club legends who I was convinced deserved a renewal of their respective contracts.

Whilst Evatt’s playing career will draw to a close in the near future, he still had plenty to offer the club. A player-coach position could have suited him perfectly, but the incoming manager decided that it was not worth keeping him on.

Drew Talbot and Sam Hird are both players who still possess a lot of quality as defenders, and genuine sportsmen who always wore their hearts on their sleeves for the club, just like their colleague Evatt.

What felt more unjust than anything else was the nature of Talbot’s departure, with the full-back discovering his release through a text message by a friend.

Anyone with a heart would feel theirs ache for the 31-year-old, knowing all too well that such a loyal player never deserved to find out this way.

But focusing on the reasons for the trio’s departure, the problem that was clearly faced and still is faced currently is budget-slashing, which was an inevitable event following relegation out of the Football League into a league with much less cash to go around.

Ultimately, this has meant that the defensive trio were unable to be kept on, in combination with the preferences of the incoming but still unknown manager.

Would keeping them on have been worth their wages? You can easily argue that it would have been, but considering the scale of the need for new incoming players, perhaps it would have been too expensive to renew their contracts and still have enough wiggle room to fill the remaining squad places.

Yet, in spite of seeing the logical arguments about finances and the need for more wiggle room, it is still painful as a Spireites supporter to accept the departure of a much-loved trio, who unquestionably gave their all for the club in a time of desperate trouble.

A video released by the club jerked many tears with a fitting emotional tribute to three players who will be severely missed by supporters.

Regardless of whether it truly was the right decision to let them go, many will still be hurt by the loss of Evatt, Hird and Talbot, and the incoming manager will – even more now – need to fill their shoes with players who can bring back pride to the town of Chesterfield.