Miller's agony as Quakers toil

PROFESSIONAL football is not all flash cars, �120,000-a-week wages and cup finals, as DEREK DAVIS learns when he talks to former Ipswich Town defender Ian Miller about the other side of the beautiful game.

Derek Davis

PROFESSIONAL football is not all flash cars, �120,000-a-week wages and cup finals, as sports writer DEREK DAVIS shows when he talks to former Ipswich Town defender Ian Miller about the other side of the beautiful game.

WHEN Christiano Ronaldo stropped away in a sulk at being substituted in Sunday's Manchester derby, he was able to drive away from Manchester United last weekend in a Bentley.

Meanwhile, former Ipswich Town defender Ian Miller is considering taking on ironing to make ends meet.

Ronaldo has a Champions' League final to look forward to, and the World Player of the Year will spend the summer basking, not just in the sun, but the glory of a couple more winners' medals and a few extra million tucked away in the bank.

In contrast Miller, who achieved his dream of becoming a professional footballer less than three years ago, has not been paid by Darlington for three months, and is being forced to spend his summer break searching for any sort of work.

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In fact the 25-year-old former part-time lecturer, who was plucked out of non-league football by Ipswich Town before going on to sign full time for he Quakers, is willing to do any sort of menial work so he can pay bills.

Miller last night told the EADT: “It has been an extremely difficult few months and for many players it has quite simply been a choice of putting petrol in the car to go training or buying food.

“I'm not in a position where I can sit and wait. I need to be earning money not for holidays but to pay the mortgage and put food on the table.

“Lecturing or coaching is an avenue I could explore.”

Even in adversity Miller showed he has retained his sense of humour when he added, half joking: “I am willing to do anything. I'm handy with a Hoover and not bad at ironing.”

After going into administration in February and taking a 10-point deduction, which cost them a League Two play-off place, Darlington have effectively been put into mothballs by administrators Brackenbury Clark and Co.

The Quakers' administrators last week axed 10 members of staff, including kitman Thompson and told all the players they could find new clubs so they could get them off the wage bill, and all just three days after a charity game at the Darlington arena raised more than �20,000 supposedly to help pay wages.

Miller is livid at the way all the people at the club have been treated.

“We've been treated like battery hens,” he added.

“I don't think people who work in factories doing packaging are treated as badly as we have been.”

It is all far and away removed from the top end of the game.

Miller pointed out: “The perception is all footballers are wealthy and it is a glamorous lifestyle bit the reality lower down is very different.

“It is all about business but there has been a human cost.

“People read it but maybe still don't realise how it affects us.

“Firstly we are not being paid and secondly we may never see any money.

Miller has another year on his contract, but unless a new owner can be found for the club, Darlington may be forced out of business altogether and with the deadline passing last week without an acceptable buyer coming forward, there is a strong possibility that will happen, his deal will be worthless.

There is also a chance he will not get any of the deferred wages being paid either and knows it is unlikely any new club would start paying them until August 1 when player contracts usually start from.

Miller hopes to be fixed up by then and getting in 34 games this season has meant he has admirers.

The 25-year-old said: “By playing every week my confidence is much higher than earlier in the season and not only that but I have been playing the way I like to play and at a good level of form and consistency.

“Hopefully that will help me when it comes to getting fixed up. It is ironic because at the beginning of the season I was getting paid but not playing, in the second half of the season I was playing regularly but not getting paid.”

Miller is also disappointed at the way the whole process was dealt with and believes if the previous owner had been more patient he would have been in stronger selling position.

He added: “If you look at the sums and work out what we're roughly paying them a month, it's not too dissimilar to what the players are on combined.

“We didn't have to take a ten-point deduction. We could've taken a wage decrease until the end of the season, knowing that we'd get our back pay as we'd have been in the play-offs, when there would have been a financial incentive for going up at Wembley.

“I've haven't spoken to him (the administrator) directly but I think when they're earning the sort of money they're supposed to be earning they will have no incentive to sell the club.

“I know there have been bids on the table; how can someone turn around and say they would prefer to mothball the club than to accept a bid?

“It's mind-blowing.”

Miller also expressed his disappointment for the fans that, in the space of three months, have gone from supporting a League One bound club to one which may not exist next season.

“Next season the club will be run on a shoestring, there'll be none of the current players there, they'll be signing players from non-league and so forth, and there won't be any decent football for the fans to come and watch,” he said.

“We had a good team together and now it looks like being pulled apart.”

Miller was signed by Ipswich after being spotted playing against them for Bury Town in a pre-season friendly but made just one senior appearance, in the 3-0 win over Plymouth in 2007 and was on loan at Boston United and then Darlington where he signed permanently last year after scoring a goal in a play-off semi-final.

Despite this latest set back Miller has no regrets as he told me while visiting family back in East Anglia.

He said: “I am a professional footballer which is what I always wanted. I would not have changed it for the world.”