Matt Bloomfield column: End of football season is paved with uncertainty
Every time I seem to look on the BBC Sport website or catch up on social media at this time of year, I am met with the details of the number of players that are being released by clubs up and down the country.
It is, for obvious reasons, the most unsettling and worrying time of the year for professional footballers.
It can't be an easy day for managers either. Everyone is human and most managers will have sat in the other seat at some point during their playing career, so they will know exactly what it means to the players.
Some have families to support, while others have had their dreams of a career in the game crushed.
What happens at the end of the season?
Most clubs these days will have a day set aside after the season has finished to have meetings with all of their players. These will mainly be debriefs about how the season has gone, reviewing your performances and assessing what is expected of you in the coming season.
For the out-of-contract players it will be either a meeting about the offer of a new contract or to be told that you are being released.
Most players will enter these meetings with no idea what their future may hold. Some will have an idea about which way the meeting will go - but nothing can be certain in this game.
A young player may be kept on because of the potential they have shown, even if they haven't played every game, while a player who has been picked nearly all season may be moved on due to the budget they use up. The manager might also want to bring in one of his own signings.
What issues can come up?
If a player is released then they invariably have two more pay days until they are out of contract and need to have found new employment.
Nearly all professional footballers love playing the game, but as soon as it becomes a job you have to look at things slightly differently.
Even if it is a positive meeting and a contract is offered there is still the concern surrounding what the contract offer might be. 'How long is it? Am I happy with it? Can I get a longer or more lucrative contract elsewhere?'
Something that could be very simple can often take a lot longer to sort out than both parties would like.
There's one season that stands out for me. We played an end-of-season friendly against a Premier League club's under-21 side, at their training ground, and all the meetings for the out-of-contract players were held at the same time.
It felt very strange saying goodbye to some team-mates in the changing room and then getting changed and going to play a game.
It's always an unsettling time and while the players under contract are feeling content knowing they have another year on their contract, strong bonds are made in the changing room so all of the squad are sympathetic to any team-mates who are in that situation.
They know that a year down the line, it could be them.
Speaking from experience...
I have entered these meetings several times during my career. I have spent 12 and a half years at Wycombe Wanderers but my contract has run out a few times during that period and, although I have always been confident about how the meeting would turn out, I never knew exactly how it might go.
The most nervous I have ever been going into one of these meetings is when I was 16, and I had a meeting at Ipswich Town about whether I was going to be taken on as an academy scholar or whether I would be released.
My whole future and the opportunity to live out my dream as a professional footballer was to be decided in that meeting and I felt physically sick as I walked into the meeting room.
Luckily the meeting was positive and it was the start of a career that I am still loving as much as I did that day.