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Collecting players and then sending them out on loan. Surely this isn’t the best way to run football.

Back to today, and the Dutch FA has twice investigated the link between Chelsea and Vitesse but have concluded that there is no common management or ownership of the clubs – which is a bit of a pointless finding because common ownership is not illegal under football rules as Watford have shown.

But linked clubs can’t play in the same competition – and that would happen if both clubs qualified for the Champions League at the same time

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There is no doubt (as an article in the Guardian today has shown) that when Vitesse were taken over, senior execs close to Chelsea’s ownership were involved – and that takeover was then quickly followed by Chelsea loaning Vitesse three players.   But still all well and good – no rules broken.

Except that Vitesse’s charge up the league suddenly came to a halt, and they fell back to a place outside of Champions League qualification – and this happened as the ownership of the club changed.  Then the ex-owner Merab Jordania started to allege that Chelsea had deliberately sought to keep Vitesse out of the qualifying positions, particularly by stopping key transfer signings happening – which of course both clubs deny.   The Dutch FA looked again at the situation and concluded that there was no joint interest in Vitesse and Chelsea, and so again no rules were broken.

So now, with that established, let’s come back to the “why” questions.  Why do Chelsea buy up so many players and then have them out on loan?

In March 2015 a report into the current state of the loan market found that Chelsea had, at that moment, 26 players out on loan.   And at that moment the club in England with the second most players out on loan was Manchester City with 15.

But these are not by any means the largest numbers in Europe.  The report noted that at that time Atalanta had an amazing 45 players out on loan while in their squad they had seven players on loan from other teams!

Verona had 46 players out on loan, Juventus had 64 players out on loan and Parma had over 100!  However just at the moment the report was being completed Parma was revealed to have total liabilities of €218 million and months of unpaid salaries.  It was relegated to the fourth division of Italian football.

All these bits of information suggest once again that something odd is happening within the loan system.  To all intents and purposes the mass loaning out of players simply does not bring in meaningful returns for a club – and yet it is going on with insane levels among some clubs – perhaps in the vague hope that just one of the loaned out players will turn out to be a brilliant footballer.

So why have Chelsea become involved with (although they are not controlling) Vitesse? Certainly it would seem that it now has a friendly club that can take their loanees and give them experience.  But still the question remains, why take on so many players who are loaned out?

The answers must be

a) to stop other clubs getting the players

b) to find a gem who will play for the club or be sold on at a profit.

The worry is that there is more of a) going on than b), and that because this is clearly not good for the integrity of the sport, it is worth Chelsea’s while covering their tracks by having some of their players in a club that they have an interest (although as has been shown not a controlling interest) in.

It clearly isn’t good for the competitiveness of football for regular clubs to find that many players are excluded from the market because a super rich club has bought them up and controls where they might go, and it would be nice to think that the media, Fifa and Uefa might like to pursue this issue further, but once again there seems to be little appetite to do this.

It seems, no one is going to tackle this oddity any time soon.



21 comments to Collecting players and then sending them out on loan. Surely this isn’t the best way to run football.

  • Mike T

    Dearie me Tony you really are trying to send up a smoke screen

    Chelsea have 37 players out on loan at the moment so what number is acceptable? I guess you conclude the 22 Arsenal have out on loan is!
    Not many of the players loaned out get into Chelsea squad you suggest well as it stands 8 have.
    You then go onto say linked clubs can’t play in the same completion. I suggest you do a little bit more research for whilst that it is right within home FAs it’s not quite what the rule is for UEFA competitions for those links are banned with clubs that play in “Any UEFA Competition “In other words had UEFA had a problem when Vitesse played in the EL and in the same season Chelsea played in the CL then they both would have been kicked out

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Personally, I think there should be a limit on the number of players allowed to be under contract with any club. Clearly, this must take into account their ages (e.g. u19, u21, etc.). I don’t think it is healthy for football for a small number of clubs to have that much control. I get it, that owners want to make money and to have success, but IMO it ridiculously tilts the playing field against the smaller clubs. The loan system is simply part of this. The next thing will be to allow clubs to have 30 players dressed for a match and have unlimited substitutions. It won’t be enough to have 11 good players on the pitch. To compete you would need double that, which only rich teams could afford.

  • Mike T

    I am not to sure I disageee with any of what you say. However.
    Tony indeed many quickly condem the loan system but part of Chelseas and indeed Arsenals problem is that other than graduation to the first team there really isn’t any meaningful completion for the majority of players registered at PL clubs. The irony is that when ( for it will happen some day) a new Arsenal manager it’s unlikely that the flow of players to the first team will be in the same number as under AW .
    In the likes of Spain they have not only their first team playing in the national league structure but often they have a b and indeed a c team playing competive football.
    I am not sure of the exact numbers but including scholars PL club at the top level can have over a hundred players on their books . Over 20 of the players have out on loan are academy graduates many are a way from being first team standard and in truth need to be tested in a far more competive league than the U23 provides for it’s not just about ability it’s far more than that.

  • Tommo

    Take your pick. Which of the 38 would you want in the arsenal team? Loic Remy?

    By all means ask why, but I don’t see as to how it has much impact on arsenal. If they’ve lent Remy to Palace so we don’t get him, it’s hardly disastrous.

    As a poster commented above about arsenal. Why not ask the question why we have 22 players out on loan? Answer that, and maybe we’ll get to the bottom of why Chelsea do it too.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mike T, the big difference is that in Chelsea’s case not one of the young players will play for the first team any time soon. So then why keep on doing it?
    Arsenal is more known to give youth players a chance. I think we have a rate of at least one youth team player per season joining in the first team. Maitland-Niles being the one this season after Iwobi last season, then Bellerin, then Coquelin, …

    So there are big differences in to why Arsenal and Chelsea are doing their loans. With Arsenal it is to give them the last step up to the first team. What was the last Chelsea youth player to become a permanent first team player? Terry?

  • WalterBroeckx

    And I know not all will make it of course. But certainly more than in Chelsea’s case for the last…what is it now… 14 years? Or even longer? I think you could fill a full 11 players from the youth teams who had loans from Arsenal since Terry became the last Chelsea youth player to become a regular first team player. In fact I think that if Terry would have been a few years younger he would have been kept out of the first team since the money came in. But now he was lucky enough to have had the chance to establish himself.

    I remember a City supporter coming on here on Untold to brag about the City academy and how they would stop spending money and bring in all those fantastic youth talents they had nurtured in their academy and how they would stop spending ridiculous money. Well I must say I haven’t seen much of that happening so far….

  • Mike T

    You are confusing the two topics. This article is about loans.
    Irrespective you suggest that not one of Chelsea academy graduates will play for the first team and to quote you ” any time soon”
    Dearie me are you suggesting that Ruben Loftus Cheek, Nat Chalabah , Aina or Nathan Ake and who all came through the academy haven’t played for the first team this season?
    I think that 8 of our first team squad, which Tiny keeps delighting in telleing us is less in number than Arsenals, has 8 academy graduates in it
    The players you would possibly want is Anders Christensen on loan in Germany and possibly Baker on loan in Holland. Behind those you have Abraham at Bristol City who will probably be at a PL club on loan next season.

  • Mike T

    Tiny s/b Tony

  • Tommo

    Mike, thanks, but no thanks. You don’t by any chance have any more PL or CL winners surplus to requirement that want to come here?

    As a rule of thumb, I think up to 25 players out on loan is quite acceptable. Anything over 25 is outrageous.

  • nicky

    I wish the loan system was abandoned.
    Young players are gathered in by the wealthiest of clubs and promptly loaned out to pick up bad habits with clubs in the lower divisions.
    better by far to remain with their parent club and coached “the club’s way”.
    Too obtain playing time, there should be more reserve-type leagues for the young pros to learn their trade.;)

  • Mike T

    Rumour is that JT is surplus to requirements.
    I read on some forums that the fact the Cech was allowed to join you being a CL and PL winner wasn’t as good as it seemed.
    25 is an arbitrary number in truth I would suggest even lower but as I have said before if the clubs themselves wanted it to change it would already have happened the irony is that the clubs voted not that long ago to allow loans in the PL

  • Mike T

    There’s a lot more to it than just loaning players out for most clubs have a dedicated team supporting players on loan indeed most of the players, or it least the youngest ones go to clubs that are specifically selected.
    It’s not just about playing time it’s all about playing truly competive football against seasoned professionals in front of a crowd .
    Greg Dyke wanted to introduce PL B teams into the FL which understandably wasn’t welcomed but from a selfish point of view it would have helped players devolpment at the highest level indeed it’s worth looking up the likes of Real Madrid B
    The under 23 league offers nothing in truth nor does the under 18 league nor indeed the FA youth cup indeed that conclusion is I guess why so many of Arsenals under 23 squad have gone out on loan.

  • Gord

    OT: Mavididi out for season

    I gather he tore his hamstring, and needs surgery.

    Bummer. So much for that loan.

    Or, maybe the medja is lying again?

  • nicky

    @ Mike T,
    Point taken.
    I just don’t like the principle of would-be Arsenal legends being coached in their profession, away from Colney. 😉

  • Menace

    My take on loans is that they are buffer stock to return better profit than banks. I would prefer a rule of maximum 15 players on loan & none within Premier league or same league as loaning club. I think it is unfair that some teams have 20 players representing them each weekend albeit in other colours in the same league. The basis of my dislike is that injuries to ‘chosen teams’ can be managed by this excess.

    I do not have any issues with clubs exploiting every aspect of the commercial environment. It is what commerce is for – innovation & trading for profit.

    I do not accept the officiating in English football as it is currently structured. It is corrupt.

  • Mike T


    My take on it is that FFP plays a significant part in all this and yes I say that Chelsea and others are using players as commodities but that’s the way FFP is structured.As they say targets drive behaviour
    The irony in you last paragraph is that inaccounting terms that’s exactly how player trading is treated not just since FFP but for many many years
    I remember posting on here some while ago that those that thought FFP would sort everything were in for a huge wake up call.
    Player trading in FFP terms is pathetic and the process of amortisation and the ability to reduce the year on year charge is something I know Tony feels strongly about but all clubs do it but UEFA and or the FA are unlikely to change it any time soon.
    I am not sure which club, if any has 20 players representing them each week but I personally would agree that you shouldn’t have players from say Chelsea on loan to PL clubs.

  • Menace

    Mike T – the 14 odd wearing the clubs jerseys plus those on loan. Not rocket science.

  • Mike T

    Menace read again what you said
    You said 20 players in the same league.
    It’s not rocket science you say but which club has 6 players on loan to other PL clubs? Chelsea have 1 Logic Remy at Palace

  • Mike T

    I don’t believe Walter’s point was to do with the number of players on loan, but rather the spirit of why a club takes that player on in the first place. In Chelsea’s case, I believe he is spot on. There are so many talented players that will never get close to the first team for Chelsea. Those that you mentioned, Loftus-Cheek et al, I would put £20 on each being sold once the first offer north of £20 million comes in for them. Preventing a team with roughly the same resources that better nurture youth from having them, that’s the gravy.

    I do think however (sorry Walter) that you ask the wrong why? We cannot expect the FA or FIFA to level the playing field through legislation, but we can ask these young promising players why on earth they would choose to come to Chelsea?! Surely the trend has been set. A young player cannot look at Chelsea, perhaps with offers from clubs like Arsenal and Southampton also on the table and think, “surely that is the best place for me to advance my career”.

    Every time Chelsea acquire another young talent, I wonder the same thing. Are footballers really so arrogant as to think that won’t be them? They won’t spend 5 years in 5 leagues representing a team that views them as simple commodities?

    I see what you mean about this asking why thing Walter. Time consuming busineas, that.

  • Jared

    The problem is about money. These young players, often from meager or even impoverished backgrounds, simply cannot turn down the money offered by a big club. It’s like winning the lottery for them. It means a step up in social status for themselves,but also their families. It’s the same reason players from South America or other places get involved in 3rd-party ownership deals. They have no idea if they will get injured, lose form, car accident, illness, anything could happen. If they get scouted and signed by a big club where they can play, and make an enormous sum of money, great! And if they get scouted and signed by a big club, and make an enormous sum of money, and go out on loan and play, and maybe have a shot at the first team, less great but still life changing.