Why football’s break matters for some more than others
Norwich fans may have had to adjust to no football, as society tries to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. But for ex-Canaries’ youngster Kyle Callan-McFadden this is his livelihood at stake, as Paddy Davitt discovered.
Kyle Callan-McFadden’s nomadic career might be temporarily on hold but he knows his end destination.
The 24-year-old is part of a Sligo Rovers squad who have been laid off following the suspension of all football due to the global pandemic.
It is the latest chapter in a career which has never stood still since the Donegal native came through a City production line that Neil Adams moulded into an FA Youth Cup winning squad.
The defender did make it all the way to the Canaries’ first team, but a solitary League Cup appearance signalled the high point at Carrow Road.
Callan-McFadden then headed to Orlando to pursue his football dreams before starting a family brought him back to Ireland on the next stage of a journey that regularly includes off-season Norfolk reunions to see his partner’s family in Tasburgh.
The defender had been an ever-present at fan-owned Sligo in the opening weeks of his fourth summer campaign, until football was suspended.
“It is going to be tough because you are used to getting a weekly wage. The money comes in, you have bills to pay and you know what you have coming in every week or month,” he said.
“To be fair to the government here they have stepped in and put people on an emergency scheme around the pandemic. A few hundred euros and then maybe what you can get from family on top. It might not be much for some but it is a help.
“The government are trying what they can to stop people going under. It is just a horrible situation for everyone.
“The league here isn’t as big as the bigger ones in England and most players who come here know what they are signing up for. There are two or three clubs in the Premier Division who have laid off players.
“Then there are a few other clubs with bigger backers who will keep paying players. I know in the First Division they have stopped completely, with no gate receipts coming in.
“You don’t want to see clubs go bust in a situation like this.
“We have a player representative who deals with the PFA of Ireland, who I know in turn have been speaking to the FA of Ireland and Uefa, to try and come up with something to help out the players.”
Callan-McFadden and the rest of his Sligo team mates got the bombshell news on the same weekend Norwich City’s own season was shutdown earlier this month, in a rapid chain of events as the virus spread.
“At that stage we were told we’d have to take two weeks off. Minimum,” he said. “We were preparing for a game against Derry City. Before training the gaffer came in and said we would need to take the next two weeks off and then we will be in touch.
“So at that stage you think it is a two week break and the club were saying we could still come into the training ground, but only in smaller groups, and then go straight to the training pitch.
“But on the Saturday morning the manager rang me and said I needed to tell the boys you can’t go anywhere near the club.
“From that phone call on it was clear to me and I said to the other boys that given we have a fan-owned club they needed to expect the worst. That proved to be the case.”
The defender’s immediate football future might be up in the air but the Irishman clearly knows where he wants to be in the longer term.
“My partner is from Tasburgh. I have always said to her whenever I stop playing that is where we would like to go back,” he said. “My off season is normally November to January so I try and get back and watch Norwich two or three times.
“The last game I saw was the Spurs one back in December. I always try and catch up with any of the boys but only Carlton Morris is there now really from the FA Youth Cup side and he is out on loan.
“I keep an eye on the local teams as well. King’s Lynn are flying. I worked with Cully (Ian Culverhouse) at Norwich and he was excellent.
“I am enjoying it at Sligo.
“The club have been brilliant with me. When you are happy you tend to play your best. I went to Orlando and was there for a year and a half until my partner got pregnant and so we had to weigh all that up. We packed up there and came back home.
“When I first came, no disrespect to the league, it wasn’t the standard I was expecting. It was a lot better.
“Now I look back to that first year, compared to now, and it has come on leaps and bounds. The only thing it is probably missing now is a television deal like you see in the other leagues.”