Sunday, February 24, 2008


Premiership bandits.

No, this is nothing to do with the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

This is about the ridiculous loan arrangements in the football league.

By the football league, I mean to include the Premier League – which is essentially a bandit organisation which has (somehow) managed to remain a part of the FA.

How does the loan system work?

“Premier League clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players — all players with EU nationality, including those able to claim an EU passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain UK work permits.”

This is the policy of the madhouse!

Try applying this to the rest of society. Imagine that (say) airline pilots had the same working arrangements. So, Virgin Atlantic – awash with Branson's extra billions – decides to sign all the airline pilots to long-term contacts. This, by the way, would cost less than signing Premiership footballers!

Then, in a gesture of extreme hubris, Branson decides to loan some of the pilots (he chooses which ones!) to British Airways – but only on the strict condition that they don't fly any aircraft to cities served by Virgin and that BA pay all of the pilots inflated salaries and provide medical cover, training, etc. Also, as a prerequisite for receiving “loan pilots” BA must agree to give them priority in the flying roster to ensure that their skills are developed – to the extreme benefit of Virgin.

Sound good? Like to be a passenger on one of Branson's planes – piloted by a “loan-star”? I didn't think so.

The football loan system is a sham which works only to advantage the already super-advantaged Premiership. They have all the players and use the rest of the league to hone their skills. They refuse to part with the “fringe” players, not because they want them, but because they don't want any of their rivals to get them. They only loan them to Championship teams in order to reap any benefits without having to take any of the risks.

If the loan player “flops” at the Championship club – so what? Now they know he's not good enough for the Premiership. What have they lost? Nothing.

What's the solution?

Twofold. First, limit on size of all football squads. Premiership teams should only be allowed to have, say 27 professionals on their books. That's two teams and a bit to allow for reserve team games and injuries. The transfer window should be abolished. Let the Premiership teams wheel and deal to maintain squads if and when they want.

Second, limit the number of loan players a club may field to one. Footballers should want to play football. If they want to play, let them play for the team which owns their registration.

The loan system is yet another shameless scam which distorts the already shameless game of football and should be stopped or severely restricted.

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