NIC CIARDINI’S FUTURE at Lewes Football Club was still unclear yesterday after the popular wingman made an appearance for his old club Farnborough in a friendly.
Ciardini – who has proved a big hit with Rooks fans this season with performances down the left – changed the status of his contract early last week from contracted to non-contract due to a change in his work commitments.
The Dorset-born player cited the of a new job location as the reason why he could no longer commit to training and games as he would ideally like. He said at the time: “Work has to come first over football and I’ve been relocated during the working week to South West which stops me from attending training.
“I can’t expect the club to keep paying me what they were and have arranged to cancel my contract.
“However, I remain as a registered player and will be available for training as work allows, and matches as and when the gaffer needs me.”
And the highly likeable player pledged to Lewes fans on Twitter that his intention was still to try and turn out for the Rooks as often as he could. Replying to one tweet from Joe Betts, Ciardini wrote: “As it stands mate I’ll do my best to attend matches and training when I can.”
However, just before we went to press last week we reported that it had become clear former club Farnborough had put in a seven-day request for Ciardini.
A seven-day request is when one club gives another notification that they are interested in signing one of their players. That interested club must wait a period of seven days from the day of notification before they can officially approach or talk to that player.
It is believed the seven-day request from Farnborough was put in on Wednesday last week.
And this Wednesday (February 15) it seems Ciardini turned out for Farnborough on Wednesday in a friendly against Godalming Town.
The game was arranged by the Hampshire club to give players a run-out following the recent big freeze that had wiped out the fixture programme.
On the Hampshire club’s official website a news item said: “Farnborough travel to Guildford & Godalming (sic) this Wednesday.
“Manager Spencer Day has arranged a friendly as we have had little football over the last few weeks.
“It will be a complete first team fixture with all players reporting for duty. Micheal (sic) Charles and Nic Ciardini, two Farnborough favourites will also be in the squad for this friendly.”
Ciardini tweeted that day, on Wednesday afternoon, the comment: “2nd debut.”
Then, three hours later, at around 5pm, he sent a one-word tweet, saying simply: “#zonetime.”
That elicited a couple of responses from Farnborough fans. One, a Mark Saunders said: “Welcome back to a yellow shirt mate,” while another, a Scott Hamblin, said: “@nicciardini is at home mate #boro.”
And the effects of a proper run-out for the first time in weeks were clear the next morning with the message: “Feel like my legs are made of wood! #ache”
The fact that Ciardini played for Farnborough in a friendly does not necessarily mean he has played his last game for Lewes FC.
As a non-contracted player, a footballer is entitled to play for another club on dual registration forms, as long as that club is not in the same league as the home club (eg. a Lewes player on non-contract status could not play on a dual registration for, say, Eastbourne Town, as both clubs are in the Ryman League, even though Town are in a division below Lewes).
The Mountfield Road club itself has stayed silent on the situation and yesterday we were unable to make contact with Ciardini to ask him if he was able clarify the situation. Rooks caretaker manager Simon Wormull was also unavailable for comment when we tried to reach him yesterday.
Lewes fans will be desperately hoping Ciardini does that at the Dripping Pan. In his brief tenure at the club he had already won the Sussex Express Lewes FC Player of the Month Award twice (once shared in a dead-heat with Steve Robinson and once on his own).
Speaking on the unofficial fans forum last week, skb22 said: “I’d be shocked if he doesn’t go. Happy but shocked.”
And club director Patrick Marber posted: “I’m posting here as a supported not as a Board member.
“I think we’re all agreed that Nic Ciardini has been a fantastic player for Lewes all season. I’ve loved watching him play and I wish him well, whatever he decides to do.
“If he chooses to play for his local club because it makes his work/football life more manageable then so be it. He’s done us proud from St Neots onwards. I sincerely hope he plays for us again. But if he doesn’t I still remain a fan of Nic C.”
Meanwhile, Rooks general manager Steve Duly confirmed that boss Wormull was still trying to bring in manpower up front to replace striker Michael Malcolm, who was last week transferred to Bromley.
Duly said: “It looks like there will be nothing in time for Saturday, although that could change.
“We have had a couple of enquiries for players and the doors have closed on those, but we’re still working hard to bring new players in.
Meanwhile, again on the unofficial fans forum, Mr Marber did confirm that the club had received a fee from Bromley for Malcolm but the sum was not revealed.
Lewes travel to AFC Hornchurch tomorrow to face a club riding high in the Ryman Premier, although their home form is patchy to say the least (see page 75 for statistics).
Follow @BrianRPollard on Twitter for updates on that game.