IF the fact that Stephen Robinson couldn’t share his club’s achievement of sealing third place in the Premiership with his supporters put a dampener on any Motherwell celebrations, the next duty which befell the Fir Park manager ensured the week was a real damp squib.

The Northern Irishman was of course delighted to have finished the season in such a lofty position, but the reward for many of his squad for their contribution in getting there was to be told via the wonders of modern technology that their services were no longer required.

Unfortunately, that is the result of the new reality facing our clubs coming home to roost, with some of the players shown the Fir Park exit likely to have been kept around had the coronavirus lockdown not brought football to a shuddering halt.

“Unfortunately, when everyone was congratulating us on getting third on Monday, I had the unenviable task of starting to phone players and telling them they weren’t getting contracts, or we weren’t able to renew, or we were releasing them,” Robinson said.

“That’s the horrible bit of football and the bit that hurts you more than anything at a time when you should be celebrating.

“It had been a long time with uncertainty. The boys didn’t know whether they’d be coming back to play, they didn’t know whether their agents could speak with other clubs as they might still be a Motherwell player, so I thought it was only fair to them at the first opportunity when we got clarity was to pick up the phone.

“You’d rather do it face to face, but we couldn’t. We were honest with where we are and where we might see the budget.

“There are boys who we made offers to and we’re trying to honour them. Some might have to be adjusted when we get our budget later in the week.

“It’s not a nice part of the job, but, unfortunately, a reality.

“At the moment, it’s still being digested by some of them and there’s a couple I haven’t been able to get a hold of yet, so it’s only fair that [their identity] stays with me at the moment.

“As the weeks develop, you’ll see the squad list. A lot of boys who were out of contract weren’t getting renewed or we couldn’t agree.

“There are boys we could have maybe given another year to, boys that had come in from foreign football that I believe we could have developed, but we can’t take gambles. We have to build the basis of a squad.”

Robinson did reveal that one of the players to be leaving would be striker Christy Manzinga, but he hopes to keep a number of others around, most notably the youngsters he believes may form the core of his squad going forward as they look to maintain their current high standards.

“We have made offers to players currently at the club, including six of the younger players who are at the lower end of our budget,” he said. “These are people we think will develop in the next year and are the basis of our football club.

“There are boys who have been first team players for me in the last six months and we are just trying to get a figure to put on the contract. We want them to stay but we are not able to put figures in front of them until we know the budget situation.

“We are hoping to have a little bit more clarity on that in a week to 10 days.

“We are in a decent position. Can we strengthen our squad? Can we re-sign players who have done very well? There is a limit we can go to and we have Plan A, B, C, D and E for it.

“The big advantage at Motherwell is there is that structure in place and there’s a belief in the staff and the management from the board that gets you through when things aren’t going as well.

“We’ll bring players in where we can and keep trying to build. Our aim is to be up in that top each again next season.”