Professional football is a cutthroat business. Players in academies are discarded on a whim, often told they are not good enough to make it at that level and then being left to their own devices if they want to carve out a career in football.
It is a system that has been in place for quite some time, leaving a trail of shattered dreams in its wake. However, things may slowly be changing.
Crystal Palace recently announced that they will be stepping up their 'after care programme' for players recently released from their academy, a system that will involve keeping in contact with youngsters aged 18-23 who have been let go and helping them to find another club, a job, or enter into education.
It is a welcome development in the world of football, with more clubs certain to follow this route.
In years gone by, players would simply be told they were being released without any guidance on where to go from that point. Robbie Savage was familiar with that process.
Having come through the Manchester United academy as a member of the famous 'class of 92', he would be told at the age of 19 that he was being released by the club. Speaking on BT Sport last night, he summed up how difficult that was to process at the time.
"I was scared to tell my Mum and Dad that I'd let them down."
"I had nothing."
Crystal Palace have become the first team to create a dedicated aftercare package for players released from their academy 🦅@RobbieSavage8 opens up about his own experience ❤️#PLTonight pic.twitter.com/qppnh6k1fH
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 10, 2022
[There was] none, I remember the day. I was in Sir Alex Ferguson's office, he explained very eloquently why I was getting released, that there was better players at the club at the time and there was.
I said goodbye to the lads, got in my car and drove home. That was it.
From the space of 14 to 19 I was in a new family, the class of 92, with new mates and people I got on with so well. Then I got in my car to drive out of The Cliff training ground, having a car crash on the way home and being mentally all over the place.
I was scared to tell my parents that I had been released because I had let them down. For all of the work our parents had put into us as youngsters, the travelling and taking you every single where, for a successful footballer the stuff behind them in family and how well they do for them.
I was scared scared to tell mum and dad that I let them down. So from the fact I was told I was getting released, I got in my car, left The Cliff and that was it. I had nothing.
Savage would move to Crewe Alexandra, eventually working his way back up to have a decent career in the Premier League. He now works in the youth system at Macclesfield, who put an emphasis on taking in youngsters that have been released by top clubs.
Both Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand see Crystal Palace's move as a welcome development, with Ferdinand saying that clubs must constantly prepare their players for the likelihood that they will be released.
I think it's preparing the kids that most of you in this training room will be released and will have to take two, three, four steps down to come back again. Some of you may never get back to a level of professional football.
Have that understanding. The problem is that some kids go into clubs and are just fed the dream, that's not reality. Give them the reality check and then prepare them. Giving them the reality check is key.
There is a long way to go for clubs in this regard, but this is a welcome step.