The loan system changes after this season, but how far should the changes go

Fifa has already got agitated about loans and did pass a vote to end of ’emergency loans’ in England by 2014/15.  In the end that deadline went back one year to the end of the current season, and that rule looks to be fixed.  So now the debate has moved on to non-emergency loans

To explain the two types of loan, the ’emergency loan’ system allows Football League clubs to take on loan players not receiving regular first team football, often to cover injuries, and it has always been an English thing.  Very few, if any, other leagues use it.  In November 2011, FIFA’s Players’ Status Committee found that the ’emergency loan’ system applied within the FA is not compatible with general principles of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players”.

FA Rule 6.6.2 allows clubs to make up to 12 ‘short term loans’ during a season and Section 52 of the Football League’s Regulations allow ’emergency loans’ outside of transfer windows.  Fifa argued that “An ’emergency loan’ comprises all the elements of a ‘normal’ loan”, and so “is subject to the same rules as apply to the transfer of players”.

Then in 2013 the Football League closed the loophole that allowed Watford have 14 players on loan in the previous season – including 10 from Udinese.  The League voted to ensure overseas loans were treated in the same way as domestic loans with five loan players in any match squad, and only four from one club in a season.   (This was the same meeting as where sell-on fees were limited to 50% of the amount received.)

Now we are back to the issue of emergency loans, ending this season.  It seems the league clubs have asked the FA to ask Fifa to change its ruling so emergency loans continue.  Given that the practice is not common elsewhere, it seems unlikely, but the clubs are trying – perhaps restricting it to under 21s.

The argument is that the loan system as it stands allows the National League clubs to take on loan young players from League One and Two in an emergency, and this gives the Football League clubs a chance to strengthen their youth base.

Most emergency loans last season
Championship: Blackpool (8), Rotherham (6), Brighton, Ipswich (5)
League One: Colchester, Yeovil (10), Notts County (8), Oldham (7)
League Two: Tranmere (12), Accrington (10), Hartlepool (9)

More likely, Fifa will turn its attention to the way that English clubs are using the full-blown loan system, now it has got its changes for the emergency loan arrangements out of the way,

159 Premier League players are now out on loan in a total of 15 countries and once again Chelsea is the clear front runner… (figures are from the Guardian).

Total loanees this season
Chelsea 33
Liverpool 16
Man City 13
Arsenal 12
Watford 9
Leicester 8
Swansea 8
Bournemouth 7
Man Utd 7
Norwich 7
Aston Villa 6
Crystal Palace 6
Newcastle 6
Tottenham 5
Everton 3
Southampton 3
Sunderland 3
Stoke 0

Quite what this means on a club by club basis is unclear – at least to me.  Having watched the career of Zelalem develop with much interest I see his loan move to Rangers as being a welcome further state in his development, playing in a tough league, and keeping himself strengthened for his undoubted arrival back in Arsenal’s first team.

But why do Stoke eschew the system – or is it no one wants to take their men on loan.  Or is the squad too small?   Why have Tottenham only five out on loan – is it that their youth system is not producing players who can benefit from a year away with another club?  Or do they feel the system doesn’t work?  Or are the privations of building the new stadium already starting to be felt?  Or…

(Incidentally the reason that Tottenham’s notorious offer to WBA for Berahino which involved paying over five years, undoubtedly relates to the cost of the stadium – it is the first real impact we have seen of this new project).

West Ham and Stoke are the only Premier League clubs currently with more loan players from other teams on their books, than loan players out with other clubs.  That suggests some interesting financials I suspect.

Chelsea were top of the loan league last year, and this season a fifth of all loanee players from the Premier League come from Stamford Bridge.  That is to say players costing Chelsea around £100m are now out on loan, mostly at Vitesse Arnhem.

But still despite all this youth investment the last player to come through the youth ranks at Chelsea and into the first team as a permanent fixture was John Terry.  Courtois who joined Chelsea aged 19 and was immediately loaned to Atlético Madrid is sometimes quoted as a youth product, but I think that is pushing it.  He had started playing in the first division of the Belgian league at 16).

The most popular location for loan players to go to is League One and Two, and the only country, as far as I know, where the loan system is as extensive as here, is Italy.  Indeed Italy is the location of 13 Premier League players.  Scotland and the Netherlands have 10 – but the latter is mostly made up of Chelsea’s players playing for Vitesse Arnhem.

Total To EPL Eng. non EPL Italy Spain Germany France Turkey USA
Man City 13 0 0 5 0 0 2 1 2
Crystal Palace 6 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0
Leicester 8 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0
Swansea 8 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
Man Utd 7 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 0
Arsenal 12 2 7 1 0 0 0 0 0
Liverpool 16 2 8 1 1 1 0 1 0
West Ham 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
Everton 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
Southampton 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bournemouth 7 0 7 0 0 0 0 0 0
Aston Villa 6 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chelsea 33 5 5 5 0 1 2 2 0

Man City, being part of a worldwide franchise, have loaned two to New York City FC, and this will grow as their owners buy more clubs.   Watford have Gino and Giampaolo Pozzo’s links (between them they own Watford, Udinese and Granada) allowing them a fairly free, although now ultimately limited, interchange of players.

Overall, the system is becoming messy, now that it includes the permanent links between clubs around the world.  Fifa don’t seem inclined to deal with that, and so it would seem likely Man City’s links with the USA and Australia will expand further, and Chelsea might in the end not be happy with just one loan club.  Indeed we could see Arsenal return to this approach, having done it before with KSK Beveren.  Maybe a club in France?

(Loan figures from the Guardian, Independent and the Telegraph throughout).


6 September 1958.  Arsenal beat Everton 6-1 away.  Looking back it seemed like a freak result, until 15 August 2009.  Herd scored four, Groves and Bloomfield the others.  Amazingly three days later Arsenal beat Bolton by the same score – the only time this has happened in Arsenal’s history.

6 September 1986: Last game for Stewart Robson before moving on to West Ham and then Coventry City.  In five years he played 150 times for Arsenal in the league scoring 16 goals.

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20 Replies to “The loan system changes after this season, but how far should the changes go”

  1. This whole loans system has become something of a farce in the professional game. Young players are signed and loaned out, then recalled when long-term injuries in their parent club require it.
    In the case of Arsenal for instance, the newcomers are taught the Arsenal Way in initial coaching, then farmed out to learn all the bad habits from another club.
    I would prefer to see a properly constituted “B” team league so that newly signed youngsters stay with their clubs, train with the first team squad and learn the playing methods of their employer.

  2. Spurs’ offer to pay for Berahino in instalments is in no way related to their new stadium – indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Premier League transfer that ISN’T done on a pay-by-instalment basis, so I’m not sure how you can draw any conclusions from Spurs’ offer.

    Otherwise, it’s an interesting article. I was always under the impression that ’emergency’ loans were just that – a way for a club to get cover should there be a spate of injuries/suspensions. One can understand such emergencies happening once or twice a season, but when you see clubs having ten such loans in a single year, it seems to me that the system is being abused and should be looked into.

    With regards to Chelsea and their loan players, I think they’ve hit upon an excellent and sustainable model. Stockpile lots of young, cheap players, loan them out, and either promote them to the first team (Courtois), or sell them on for a tidy profit (De Bruyne, Romeu).

    At Arsenal we have done this quite well in the past, with players like Song and Coquelin benefitting from loans away, and also using the system as a shop window to get rid of surplus players (Sebastian Larsson, Justin Hoyte). Perhaps we should go a step further and copy the Chelsea model.

  3. Ryan – I agree that most deals are done in installments although most Chelsea and Man C ones appear not to be, as far as we can tell. Information is short on the issue and clubs are not obliged to reveal it all, but if the 5 year offer, as suggested by Stoke, was real, it was excessive by the standards of most other transfers, and thus the question is why would Tottenham put that sort of barrier in the way of the transfer if they really wanted the player, knowing it might harm the deal. I don’t know and of course have no real insight into Tottenham’s private world, but I really can’t find any other possible reason.

  4. I think loans have been positioned as ways of developing players, but in truth it’s once again a result of the obscene amounts of money flowing through the game. Players with potential are snapped up by rich clubs and paid too much money way too early. Once it is clear they are unlikely to make it they have to be loaned out until their contracts expire because clubs from the lower league levels (where the player should have been anyway) can’t afford the full wages or fee.

    It has become a joke. We have also seen Chelsea and Man City severely distort the league by hoarding top players and loaning them to clubs in the same league… The ‘Play against our rivals but not us’ strategy.

    Create a salary cap and a maximum professional roster. Bring back the apprentice system. Ban all loans.

  5. Sorry to go a bit of topic, RE loans, and revert straight back to transfers, but I just had to point out this piece of crazy hypocrisy from Oliver Holt this morning in The Mail on Sunday.

    a) The first thing we get is Holt highlighting Uniteds lack of direction:

    –Where is the plan? Why were United prepared to countenance the loss of the goalkeeper who has been their best player in the same window that they allowed another star of genuine world class, Angel di Maria, to move away from Old Trafford?

    Where is the sense of direction here? Where is the long-term recruitment policy? What has happened to the idea that United never sold their best players? It is more than two years now since Ferguson and chief executive David Gill left and the reality is that the club have still not got their mojo back. They are still in a state of flux.

    The sense of order and purpose that reigned when Ferguson was in charge has been replaced during each subsequent transfer window by something closer to blind panic.

    It has not been particularly dignified, either. This summer, United were very obviously used by Sergio Ramos in order to secure him a new deal at Real Madrid. They got played but United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward couldn’t seem to see it.

    The pursuit of Pedro and the Barcelona player’s decision to join Chelsea instead was humiliating as well. Bids to prise Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo from Madrid and Thomas Muller from Bayern Munich have come to nought.

    It is not that everyone disagrees with the method. It is just that, apart from waving a very large cheque book at everything that moves, it is hard to see any method at all.

    Paying a king’s ransom for a player like Luis Suarez or Muller would be understandable but to blow up to £58million on a talented but largely untried Anthony Martial on the last day of the window felt like a sign of desperation.

    b) Secondly he’s lamenting the lack of opportunity for youth to progress at United:

    –When Manchester United took to the field at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea last Sunday, it was the club’s 3,750th consecutive first-team game to have featured at least one player who has come through the youth system.

    It is a remarkable record that stretches back to 1937 and something that United fans are rightly proud of. It is part of the identity of their club, something that runs through it from the Busby Babes to the Class of ’92, but it is also a record increasingly under threat.

    The recent loan departures of Adnan Januzaj and Tyler Blackett, the marginalisation of James Wilson and the influx of new signings meant that only goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and defender Paddy McNair kept the record alive at Swansea.

    Both of them sat on the bench and neither was called on to play. If David de Gea is rehabilitated for the rest of the season, Johnstone will probably lose his place among the substitutes.

    When Phil Jones is fit, it is likely there will be no place for McNair. The culture at Old Trafford is changing. It is only a matter of time until the run is broken and when it is, another link to the great days under Sir Alex Ferguson will have been lost.

    So basically United are messing up, big style. Well, only time will tell I suppose but on the face of it he makes some very valid points regarding Manchester United since Fergies departure.

    1)No Direction.

    2)Blind panic in the transfer market.

    3)No youth development.

    A total mess in fact, and the polar opposite to what Arsenal are doing.

    1)A definite direct.

    2)Absolute refusal to ‘panic buy’ and pay over the top, a la Martial.

    3)A very definite youth policy, and not just words a la Chelsea.

    This from Ivan Gazidis at the Arsenal Supporters Q & A on Friday 19th June.

    IG: “I’ve stood here many times before you, in more difficult times and talked about what we’re trying to do and at times it’s been quite difficult to explain that. But I hope that you begin to see the different parts coming together. So you think about this summer and it’s not just about signing players, but it’s about developing the club not just for next season, to push us forward and ensure we’re at the top level again in 5, 10, 15 years’ time. So we’re starting to do works on the other side of the stadium, in club level, one of the rooms is being rebuilt. So it makes the environment more comfortable for club level, but also enables us to continue to be strong in our commercial revenues, sponsorships and so on.

    We’re doing redeveloping work at Hale End, with our Academy, what is going on there is unreal. We’ve completely rebuilt that, in 5 years’ time that is going to be unrecognisable from what it is now. It’s a fantastic facility for 8-10 year olds and then at London Colney, we’ve got 18 months or two years of very hard work there. We’re rebuilding the academy building, renovating the first team site. And then you’re also talking about the personnel to drive the changes. At Academy level, we’ve been making a really serious investment and producing those homegrown players.

    Then obviously, the thing everyone wants to talk about, is what’s happening at the tip of the iceberg with the first team and we’ve built quietly and without a lot of fanfare a good and deep squad. Now this summer is quite a delicate one for us, because it’s easy to improve when you’ve got obvious weaknesses, but I feel we’ve got a very good and strong squad across all positions. We’ve got a very healthy age profile, it’s a young squad and we’re in great contract positions as well, lots of long contracts, not too many people we have many issues with contract wise. The challenge for us, and what a great challenge to have, is how you improve that. You’re right, we have to do that but it’s actually not very easy when you’ve got a very good squad. Because when you bring somebody in, you’re pushing somebody else down, so you’ve got to be sure that when you add someone, you’re really raising the level of the squad. That’s our challenge this summer and I’m convinced we’ll be up to it, as we have been for the last couple of years.”

    You’d think that was everything that Holt was looking for wouldn’t you? Direction, prudence, youth? But no, he couldn’t resist a dig at us:

    –At least they are spending money. Arsenal fans must envy them that. But it is not targeted spending. It’s a scattergun.

    So he totally trounces United for everything they’ve been doing since Fergusons departure.

    ‘Blind panic’ and a ‘Scatter Gun’ approach to transfers. Seemingly no direction, and a serious lack of Youth players coming through. A shameful mess to be precise.

    And yet we are supposed to ‘Envy them’ !!!

    You couldn’t make it up.

    The level to which journalist will sink just to find a way to ‘have a dig’ at Arsenal is simply amazing.

  6. Just a link to a story running in Lausanne Switzerland – 2nd division

    They have a new player this season, Santiago Feuillassier, born 1994

    Interestingly he just tells his story of joining Real Madrid at the age of 14 and says how much he missed his familly.
    At 16 he had to leave the accademy as he did not make the cut.
    he went to Rayo Vallecano for 4 years was baldy hurt at the knee, then ended in Lausanne after stints at Alcobendas, Puerto Bonita et Parla.

    The Lausanne trainer playes years in Spains, this explains that

    Anyway, here we have a blatant example of what the academy of Real Madrid has done, in the open.

    Keep up reporting on child trafficking…..someone needs to do it

  7. Jambug

    Not to mention they have finished below us for 2 seasons now.

    We won two FA cups also but the hypocrite Journos simply forget.

  8. Walcott’s left foot:

    Two chances missed in a week with his left this week,one against Krul one against the minnows from San Marino.

    Walcott scores more goals then the Newscorp’s anointed heir of Rooneh: Greg Dyke’s stepson ‘Arry II, Kane.
    Walcott gets more criticism from the petty plundits though he came on after Kane, scored more goals, and missed the same number of half chances.

    Doesn’t really add up does it?

    Sure, he needs to work on his left foot. A little bit. He also scored in an FA cup final, cutting in from the left. With Sanchez who also scored his first goal of the season in the middle for that phase of play. Giroud came off the bench. And scored.

    Do you think the self-declared Experts have managed to work out what’s going on with the forwards at Arsenal? They’ve only had clues during games like the cup final, where the Arsenal scored four goals in the most comprehensive FA final performance that many can remember.

    Seems like a reasonable question to me. 😉

    Perhaps those claim of Groundhog Day are on the right track. Last year it was “Six defenders only” ,though it is easy and safe to declare that any top top club would take Bellerin and Gabriel into their squads. And this year it is “no strikers!”
    Different day. Same old Gr*t.

    This narrative has sweet FA to do with the Football.
    Plenty of evidence for that reasonable conclusion. Plenty.

    Why are people who say that they love arsenal football club so quick to quote media that have an unequivably, proven, an easily identifiable aggressive and biased attitude towards Arsenal Football Club?

    It is very strange behaviour.

  9. According to one report, Harry Kane (the greatest footballer of all time since Roy of the Rovers) scored a fine goal. Walcott scored 2 against a “weak defence”. Did San Marino change their defence in the late stages of the game?

  10. They scored their goals at the same time!
    Both coming on in the second half against the tiring part timers(?)

    Only a weirdo or a propagandist would even attempt to praise one over the other. And if you’re going to do that surely you’d praise the one who scored more goals,…

    Very odd!

  11. If marital is worth £50M then how many £35M+ youth players do AFC have?
    Bearing in mind Gnabry was on the verge of the World Cup winning German squad etc, before injury.

    Repeat after me if you want a lobotomy:

    “Arsenal have signed zero outfield players including the young French players who are only two years younger then martial.”

  12. Finsbury and John, I would like to also point out that in two matches against this poor opposition Rooney has failed to score a goal that isn’t from the penalty spot…and failed to control a ball and get a meaningful shot away when one on one (yet again)…

  13. @Jambug thanks for your post and points, I couldn’t bring myself to read that article earlier…

  14. Jambug
    Martial was signed for an up front fee of £36M . It could go up to £58M but it’s highly unlikely.
    Here’s some of the conditions needed to be met for this to happen.
    1. Martial wins Ballon d’Or in the next four years.
    2. Man U win a domestic treble
    3.Man U win the CL

    And many other more realistic ones like for example Martial being capped 25 times for France during his United contract.

    Even if any one of the aforementioned three were to happen, United would be laughing at the £58M fee all the way to the bank .

  15. Rooneh with a poor touch?


    Check this out for a first touch:

    This player only scored 20+ goals on his first season in the premier league! quite an acheivement. He was the player of the season in the league no point in anyone pretending otherwise.
    And when not scoring he was playing in the CF area and winning headers in famous cup finals and making assists. With the odd thunder blaster of a goal squeezed in here and there.

    Repeat after me if you desire a full frontal lobotomy:
    “Arsenal signed no forwards, no outfield players during this transfer window trophy competition.”

  16. Arsenal have a very odd relationship with the press, from Arsenes media spin to the way the club does things. Simply it doesnt sell papers and therefore the players dont get the punditry that ones who sell there soul do. I dont take much notice about most journalists these days because its pointless. Read blogs and find the information elsewhere and make up your own mind.

  17. Tom

    Martial was signed for an up front fee of £36M . It could go up to £58M but it’s highly unlikely.
    Here’s some of the conditions needed to be met for this to happen.
    1. Martial wins Ballon d’Or in the next four years.
    2. Man U win a domestic treble
    3.Man U win the CL”

    Why are you aiming that comment at me?

    I never mentioned it, Oliver Holt did.

    All I was doing was highlighting Holts hypocrisy of criticising United for having:

    a) a scatter gun approach to transfer spending,

    b) not having any apparent direction for the Club, and

    c) no youth development and

    Yet in the next breath saying Arsenal fans should ‘envy’ them.

    I don’t need you to explain the intricacies of the Martial deal to me. The intricacies are irrelevant to the point I was making. Perhaps you should share your in depth knowledge of the deal with Oliver Holt, as he obviously isn’t as up to speed as you.

    If you feel the need to educate me again please make sure you read my post properly first.

  18. I would hope the new loan system changes to improve player distribution (rather than allow wealthy clubs to hoard them like turkeys waiting for Christmas).

    Loan players in the same competition must be included in the parent clubs squad. This is because they are in truth, as they play all opponents apart from the parent club. Why should wealthy clubs have more than 11 players on the field at any one time without penalty?

    Loan players outside of European competition should have a fixed term loan contract with parent league getting a percentage. Loan players agents must also be liable for a fixed penalty to grass roots football in country of registration.

    Clubs must be limited to a maximum of 3 years loan to any player, following that the player must either be included in the playing squad or sold.

  19. I just don’t understand why teams are allowed to have so many players under contract. 1st team, reserve team, academy.

  20. GGG – It is a bit like farming. You have to keep sheep from each year to maintain a good flock. I don’t have any issue with number of younger players. The issue I have is with number of loan players. They should all be included in the parent squad. This will ensure low volumes of loan players.

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