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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 21:48 GMT 22:48 UK
Record number face dole
Former Aberdeen striker Scott Booth
Scott Booth had hoped to move into coaching with Aberdeen
Agent Raymond Sparkes has blamed boardroom mismanagement for leaving more than 400 players seeking new clubs in Scotland this close-season.

A financial crisis means clubs in England's Third Division can now offer twice the wages than even Scottish Premier League outfits can afford.

"Clubs have to look at themselves as they have overspent and put themselves in this position," said Sparkes.

Players Union boss Fraser Wishart said: "The game is in a terrible mess."

Wishart highlighted one player leaving Livingston and two from Dundee, two clubs in administration, who in recent days moved to English clubs.

"You see Derek Lilley has gone down to Boston United in the English Third Division, Lee Mair has gone to Stockport in the Second Division and Dave McKay has gone to Oxford," he said.

It has come a little earlier than I expected and I don't have anything else
Scott Booth
"They have been offered two or three-year contracts on much more money than Premier League clubs can offer them here."

Wishart fears that many players will be forced to leave the professional game and find themselves on the dole queue, with a near record number being released this close-season.

"We are finding the drop is now from the Premier Division down to the Second or Third and perhaps out of the game altogether to the Juniors," he said.

"The players are left out in the lurch unprepared for life outside football."

It is a situation that has struck even the likes of former Scotland international Scott Booth.

The 32-year-old, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, has been told that he will not be offered a new contract by Aberdeen.

"I really wanted to stay at Aberdeen as it is a club I love, it's my local club, the one I supported as a boy and I hoped to give something back, not just in a playing sense but in coaching the younger kids," he said.

"But now I am unemployed at 32, I have been doing this for 15 years and it has come a little earlier than I expected and I don't have anything else."

Motherwell, Dundee and Livingston are all in the process of coming out of administration, while all their SPL rivals have had to make major cutbacks to survive in recent seasons.

Sparkes added: "It is not the players' fault and, contrary to popular belief, it is not the agents either.

"Nobody put a gun to the clubs' heads when they were paying high wages.

"Each board of directors and each club really needs to look at themselves and ask themselves whether they have the proper credentials to take their football club forward as a business."






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