STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Nigel Reo-Coker of Bolton Wanderers holds off Jonathan Walters of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Bolton Wanderers at Britannia Stadium on May 13, 2012 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Multiple reports this morning have said that Nigel Reo-Coker activate a relegation release clause in his contract that will see him leave the Reebok Stadium after just one season. The reports say that the move is almost definite but the quotes in this morning's Bolton News say otherwise. The pain of relegation has not settled in with too many people, Reo-Coker included, and he will likely wait to make a decision.
There are two different arguments to be made here: the "we gave him a chance and he shouldn't quit us" argument and the "who can blame him" argument.
Nigel Reo-Coker was sitting on the bench at Aston Villa before his contract ran out. From 2009 to 2011, NRC made just 30 league starts and 10 further substitution appearances. His 2009/2010 season was marred by a training ground bust up with Martin O'Neill that saw him dropped to the bench for most of the season. Gerard Houllier would give him another chance the following season but he didn't enjoy nearly as much playing time as he did at Bolton Wanderers.
The 28 year old started 37 games for Bolton Wanderers this season finding through injury and sickness in a number of those starts as Bolton Wanderers hoped to avoid relegation. Nigel Reo-Coker also captained the side in games that Kevin Davies was not active for and acted as a guiding voice in the Fabrice Muamba incident.
The rumored clause in NRC's contract is that he can leave relegated Bolton Wanderers to join another Premier League club. Newcastle United and a few others are set to swarm.
He told Marc Iles of the Bolton News:
"I need time to step away from things but I'll give the manager a call and speak to him, and see what the situation is.
"I just haven't been able to let it settle in that we won't be playing in the Premier League next season."
"It's difficult to sound positive at the moment,"
"I've given 100 per cent and my commitment has always been there.
"I feel like I've been emotionally attached to the club and it's really hard to accept because I'm not just a footballer for the sake of it. I don't walk away and think of it as just an occupation."
There is no doubting that NRC gave the club more than 100% this season and was one of the best, most consistent performers throughout. Some can argue that the contract clause itself is very selfish and that he should help bring Bolton Wanderers back up. The following quote, also from the Bolton News, does give fans something to be optimistic about and shows that nothing is determined yet.
"I love this football club and it reminds me of what football should be about," he said. "It's like Wimbledon used to be in many ways - an old-school family club.
"It's hard to accept not being in the Premier League, but at the same time, this happened to Newcastle a couple of seasons ago and now they are challenging for fourth.
"If they can do it, why can't we? We have got some great youngsters here, there is a bright future - the three ‘Js', Josh (Vela), Jay (Lynch) and Joe (Riley), are fantastic products. You have got young Marvin (Sordell) and Gregg (Wylde) coming in, and with the right mix of experience it should be a bright future.
"Funnily enough, to have the experience of all this at such a young age will be really beneficial."
If he goes, it will certainly be a big miss for Bolton Wanderers. There's no doubt about that. But do remember that until the club or Nigel Reo-Coker himself comes out with a statement, nothing is official.