Lyle Taylor has refused to play again for Charlton Athletic this season, in fear of risking a ‘life-changing’ move at the end of his contract. Paul gives his view and warns that it may spark a trend for players in similar positions.
Earlier this week, Charlton Athletic manager Lee Bowyer revealed to the press that talismanic striker Lyle Taylor will not play for the club again when the season resumes. Taylor is one of 15 Charlton players whose contract or loan spell will expire on 30th June – the typical date for contracts ending in British football.
Out of these players, three have chosen to not play for the Addicks again. Defender Chris Solly is one, on-loan Birmingham City midfielder David Davis is another, but the one which really strikes a chord is Lyle Taylor, whose 36 goals in 67 games for the club have near enough single-handedly got them to the Championship and given them a chance of staying there.
Taylor’s stock may well be higher than ever right now. Calling him ‘nomadic’ would be generous, having stumbled around non-league and lower league football for many years. From loan spells at Eastbourne Borough and Lewes, to permanent contracts at Falkirk and Scunthorpe, it would be fair to say Taylor has probably seen even more of the UK countryside than Dominic Cummings.
It was only during a 3-year spell at AFC Wimbledon that Taylor made his name, plundering over 50 goals as they established themselves in League One. A move to Charlton in 2018 gave him the chance to play for Lee Bowyer, and after getting promoted to the Championship, Taylor has continued to score at a rate of a goal every other game. He was sorely missed for two months earlier this season with a knee injury.
Other clubs have been watching Taylor like a hawk as his exploits in the Championship don’t go unnoticed. He has been linked with both Old Firm clubs, as well as a host of upper end Championship sides and Premier League clubs. He is 30 years-old, and has been offered the chance to probably get the best pay check of his generally unflattering career. The opportunity to play for one of Glasgow’s giants is tough to turn down, and I don’t think even the most ardent Charlton fan would deny him that. The question is, whether he is right to refuse to play for Charlton again?
He is frightened of getting injured and ruining his best chance of a massive career move, which will likely give a lot of financial security to him and his family for years to come. Given he is out of contract on the 30th June, he is really only breaching his contract for 3 weeks. If he had signed a pre-contract for another club and the season hadn’t been curtailed in the way it has been, no-one would have said a word. Indeed, I am sure Taylor would have left with the well-wishes of the majority of Addicks fans.
We don’t know the ins and outs of Taylor’s decision, but I can see sense in it. Do Charlton really want a player in their team scared of injury in their fight against relegation? Do they even want him around the training ground, with other players possibly being talked into making the same decision? And does the player himself want to risk probably the biggest move of his career? Indeed, Bowyer said that Taylor wants to play, but worrying about an injury may affect his performance. I would suggest that Taylor offers to terminate his deal a month early and refuse payment if he is so focused on the move, but also attach no blame to his decision in these circumstances.
Bowyer’s view has been refreshing too, insisting it is a “life-changing move” and “if it wasn’t for Lyle, we wouldn’t even be in this division.” He has also thrown the gauntlet to the rest of the squad by saying that they may lose three players but have another 22 who are willing to fight for the cause and battle against returning straight back to League One.
It will be interesting to see if other players follow suit, not just at Charlton but across the football league. Many clubs may have agreed temporary contract extensions, but for others who have pre-agreed moves or want to find another club, they may too follow Taylor’s lead and decide playing in another ten or so league ‘battles’ may risk injury and scupper new contracts, and indeed at lower levels, livelihoods.
For many Charlton fans, his departure may leave a sour taste in their mouth, but they must not forget the sweet memories Lyle Taylor will leave behind.