The changes to the loan system, how they relate to the under 23s, and how the Telegraph said “no”.

By Tony Attwood

You can be forgiven for either a) not knowing that the player loan system has changed or will change, or b) thinking it has all been by-passed by a crafty FA outsmarting Fifa.

But new regulations there are, and as far as I can see the story that England would not be implementing them having found a loophole in the rules was yet another invention by the sports reporters of the Daily Telegraph.

In essence Fifa announced that it was scrapping the emergency loan system which had been used by clubs (predominantly in England) to sign players on contracts ranging between 28 and 93 days in two periods outside of the regular transfer windows.

The original notion of the arrangement – the “emergency” part – had long since been ignored by Football League clubs, and they were openly using it to take players on loan outside the transfer windows.  Indeed such was the abuse that as I’ll show below, when QPR used the system to bring in players to help in their push to promotion, this was praised as clever tactics.

Although to be fair many teams in the lower leagues are operating on tiny squads and vanishing overdrafts so emergency loans when injury and suspension hit them, was a clever idea and they might have greater problems now they have gone.  Certainly the FA and FL have, for several years, been doing everything they can to stop the changes that now are being implemented.

Under the new rules clubs can still sign a goalkeeper on a seven-day ‘emergency loan’ basis if they do not have a senior goalkeeper that has made five first-team appearances.  They can also recall a keeper on 24 hours notice where the keeper is loan at another club if they are unable to field two fit goalkeepers in their 18-man matchday squad.

Also any player who is registered as being on a standard loan may play non-first team football for his parent club during the term of his loan period.   Which is interesting when we see the ending of the under 21 league and the invention of Premier League 2.

Indeed the move away from an under 21 league is linked to this in that many clubs argued that the standard of under-21 football is not enough to help develop the youngsters in the club, and so a new harder league was required.

This of course is contrary to the view of Arsene Wenger who must be the most successful manager in English football at bringing through young talent.  He has moved across to a system in which the very best talents (Iwobi, Adelaide for example) don’t go on loan at all, and work with the Arsenal team to develop their abilities).

But to be clear – the regular loan system, negotiated in the transfer windows – is still available.  But the concern is that just as smaller clubs won’t be able to find a loan player to help them out during the season, so the larger clubs won’t be able to recall loan players.  Liverpool, for example, which has a catastrophic injury record has used the emergency recall when they simply can’t cope with what they have any more. Jurgen Klopp for example recalled , Tiago Ilori, Kevin Stewart, Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo and Danny Ward in the face of an injury crisis.

Although to be fair to Klopp he has said that he prefers the Wenger system of young players staying at their own club to be developed there.

So part of the response to this change is the under 23 league (Premier 2) as we have seen in the last article.  Fewer players will go out on loan because of the end of the emergency system, it is argued, and therefore they need more competitive match day experience, hence the new league.

It was also as an attempt to overcome these problems that plans for “B” teams to be put into the Football League trophy were announced, although immediately a number of Premier League teams pulled out of that scheme.  16 Academy sides did enter in the end, including Chelsea, Everton, Leicester, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea, WBA, and State Aid Utd.

The problem also isn’t one that particularly affects other countries where the big teams have a B club playing in the second or third division of the league and so offering competitive games to older reserve players.

So all that seems clear, except that Ben Rumsby at the Daily Telegraph suggested otherwise.  Oddly his on line profile and job title for the paper can’t be accessed but I believe he was their “sports news correspondent” and he is still writing Olympic reports for the paper.

In its traditional pompous style the Telegraph pronounced that

Its obituary has already been written but Inside Sport can reveal that reports of the death of the emergency loan system have been greatly exaggerated.

Suggesting that the FA had been rather clever to outmanoeuvre the silly old buggers at Fifa Rumsby said, “the FA’s sanctions and registrations committee is poised to rubber-stamp an amendment that will result in that ban applying only to first-team football.

“Instead of a club being able to borrow a player on a month-by-month emergency-loan contract, they would be allowed to agree a half-season or season-long deal, in which players could take part in either first-team matches for the loan clubs or non-first-team games for their parent side.”

Well, yes, that is part of the deal, and as far as I can see, always has been and was not inserted by the FA.  And besides it  is not the issue at all.  Top clubs want their loaned out players back either because

a) the player is being mistreated by the loaning club, as with WBA under the appalling Pulis behaviour towards Gnabry

b) they themselves have run out of players.

Arsenal tend not to – I can’t think of an Arsenal player being recalled early other than for gross mistreatment as in the case above, but why would any club recall a player from loan so that the player can play in their under 23 team?

Fat Sam, when he was at State Aid Utd was engaged in just the sort of deal that Fifa are trying to stop.  He loaned Ravel Morrison to Queens Park Rangers for 93 days and helped them gain Premier League promotion.  Jolly good for QPR, but all it meant was that instead of using their own resources clubs were scrabbling around trying to get someone, anyone, into their team for the final push towards promotion or away from relegation.  “Emergency loan” it was not.

It was to stop this that the original transfer deadline which allowed transfers to continue at any time up to 31 March.  Now it seems the FA working with the League wants to go back to it.

The other loan rules are, I think, pretty much the same.  No more than five loan players in a match day squad, no more than four players borrowed from the same club, no more than two players aged over 23, plus as always the special regulations about goalkeepers.

So I think the great triumph of the FA described by Ben Rumsby and published in the Telegraph really just reiterated minor rules that were already there, and won’t make any difference.

But it was because of these changes that the under 21 competition became the under 23 competition, so that clubs can recall loaned players to play in the under 23 competition, and to allow for the fact that they will have more 22 and 23 year olds who will not be going out on loan, but need some competitive game time.

Recent Posts

Anniversaries of the day (all the anniversaries for each day are on the home page)

  • 7 August 1982: Tony Adams first appearance in friendly away to Colchester.  He had signed as a schoolboy and played his first league game on 5 November 1983 and went on to become Mr Arsenal.
  • 7 August 1999: Thierry Henry’s first appearance – as a sub in Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1 on the opening day of the season.  He had scored 3 goals in 16 for Juventus, and 20 in 105 for Monaco and did not consider himself a natural goalscorer.

3 Replies to “The changes to the loan system, how they relate to the under 23s, and how the Telegraph said “no”.”

  1. Tony,

    As far as I can establish, the 25 man squad rule for PL Clubs still applies to players who are over 21. If a team wants to have a player between the age of 21 and 23 available for their first team squad they must be included in the formal 25 man squad. A player under 23 not included in the 25 man squad list can play in the PL2 and (subject to separate rules governing the cup competitions) in domestic cups.

  2. OT, in large part

    Speaking of the Telegraph, TheRegister has an article which puts PAID to the notice that journalists (oops, I mean employees of news organizations, few (if any) are journalists) will write anything.

    The Telegraph published a _STORY_, and a story it is as it is apparently fiction in large part, about how the BBC was going to send detector vans using anti-terrorist technologies around neighborhoods looking for people who hadn’t paid their BBC tax.

    TheRegister pretty much demolishes that slant on the news. Hey, if they will lie like this over the government collecting tax, why not lie about some silly sports story?

    They (TheRegister) close with:

    > As our analysis suggested, the Telegraph’s article about the BBC sniffing Wi-Fi is complete bollocks:

  3. “Arsene Wenger … must be the most successful manager in English football at bringing through young talent.”

    Much as this sticks in my craw, facts are facts. I do believe Man U hold the record for promoting at least one young player per season.

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