Fifa are considering banning loans as they target Chelsea and Juventus

By Tony Attwood

It is something that is peculiar to football.  Loan out a player who isn’t getting much game time with you, in order to relaunch his career.   And why not?  Arsenal do it, both with youngsters that they nurture and with players that are unable to get a work permit.  And that latter point is one that is going to be quite a problem in a year or so when the UK leaves the EU.

The club that has the player on loan gets someone else paying the salary.  The borrowing club gets a player without a transfer fee.  Everyone gets a good deal.


Someone will always go and spoil a good idea.  At least that is what is being said in various newspapers around Europe.  Because some clubs have realised that the loan system can be a way to increase the value of a player without actually doing anything.  Buy him for little, loan him out so someone else pays, and then sell him for a profit.

And if only one in every 50 gets sold at that profit, so what?  The scheme has cost the buy-and-loan shark nothing.

So, numerous young players find themselves trailing round Europe from club to club, never settling down, all so an already very wealthy club makes more money and more money – and (just as important) stops one of their rivals from snapping up the youngster.

Take the Senegalese central defender Djilobodji.  Chelsea bought him for 3,5 million euros and he got three minutes game time before being loaned to Werder Brême, and then sold for 9,5 million euros to Southhampton.  According to the French language paper “24 heures” Chelsea never had any intention of playing him, only of using him to make a profit.

Fifa has been looking at this for several months now, along with the movement of young players and have now put on the table the proposal of banning all loans.   According to France Soccer,  new measures could be in place by next October.

What has annoyed Fifa is not the whole system as such but the exploitation of it by Juventus who loaned 41 players all over the world this season.  Udinese by contrast were rather modest with 27 players. Chelsea’s number of loaned out players is different depending on which source you read.  Anything from  22 to 39.   Likewise Manchester City with 18 or more – it depends how you account for the other clubs in the City group around the world.

Raffaelle Poli who has been investigating this issue said, “For the big clubs the system of the loans has now become a way to control the market and at the same time to control the competition.”  This for the simple reason that if Club A owns and is loaning out the player Club A can make absolutely sure that in the future that player doesn’t go to Club B.

Another proposal on the table, as an alternative to a complete ban on loans is to limit the number of loans that can be made over a certain period, and to limit the age range too.

Of course the clubs making money out of this are going to complain, because the technique of multiple loans (which we have been highlighting for several years now) is so simple.  Indeed it is so simple as a money making scheme I wrote a couple of articles saying I couldn’t understand it.  I was seeing it through the notion of benefiting the club in terms of developing players for their own benefit (as Arsenal do).  This system now however has nothing to do with benefiting the players, but is totally about  making money for the owning club.

Fifa is now trying to re-balance the situation.  A club limited to 25 players would not be able to bring in other players to loan them and sell them.   So it stops an artificial market and protects youngsters who are just being shipped around Europe.

The argument is that by forbidding the loans talent could help in the player’s own environment, without the risk of seeing himself uprooted overnight because of a decision which would not be in their sporting interest. 

Of course the big losers are objecting but it is felt that with such an abolition of this type of loan system football would be the winner.

Maybe Fifa for once is getting a good idea together.

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10 Replies to “Fifa are considering banning loans as they target Chelsea and Juventus”

  1. A possible unintended consequence would be a domino effect on the number of professionals at big clubs, and the fate of academy graduates.
    If, say, a team can only loan out 5 players instead of 35, what happens to the other 30 who it never expects will grace the first team. Possibly the culling during the academy years would be deep, and the number of professionals that end up on the payroll reduced. By 30 in the case of this example.
    Or maybe not.

  2. FIFA look like they want a slice of the transfer pie.

    “We have to tackle this issue; the curtains must be open. I want objective calculations and payments that all go through a central clearing house where both the intermediaries’ commissions, transfer fees and training compensations are handled.

    “As the world governing body of football it is our duty to deal with this matter.”

  3. On other news, Premier League has voted not to implement VAR next year citing they need another year of tests.

    Quite suprising that the “world-class” refereeing body that is PGMOL is behind other countries in implementing VaR and ironing out problems.

    VAR will be used at the World Cup in Russia and has also been approved for use next season by most of Europe’s major leagues, including La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A.

    Clearly PL is more important than the World Cup and the other leagues as they can go ahead without untested technology, but Premier League can’t!

    To be honest, I suspected last year reading comments by pundits/refs etc that PGMOL would deliberately sabotage the VaR trials to delay their implementation.

    The deferral decision was passed by two-thirds majority. Wenger has always said he supports introduction of video refs. Clearly it is those clubs which benefit from kicking other teams players with impunity to avoid playing football (which are the majority of the PL clubs unfortunately) under Mike Riley’s approving gaze were always going to vote against it.

  4. Of course, the Etihad group just puts teams on every continent and creates its own internal loan system.

  5. @Lisa,

    I don’t believe so. Fact it the loaned out players are playing….somewhere else. So there are positions available.
    For the clubs loaning out many, it may dent their finances by tens of millions of revenue a year – which is revenue that is not related to their activity and this gives them a competitive edge that is unfair.

    As far as I am concerned, loaning out academy players ought to be ok, until some age limit. And loaning out players who were hurt and need playing time ought to be ok as well (Wilshere, Jenkinson). But playing Monopoly with players ought to be outlawed.

  6. Academy players may need more experience. Sometimes it’s hard for young players to prove themselves. So they need experience.look at Christiansen , Courtois, Moses etc they all were loaned out and proven themselves, so now on the first 11 in such a big club . Each year new academy players trying to reach senior team , but only highly rated players will even get a chance to play In first 11. It will be harsh for the youngsters same academy players but only few will get chance to prove themselves but most have to leave the club.

  7. OT: scoring race

    Oh, oh. Kane scores again. Tipped in a ball kicked by Lewis Grabban.

  8. Optimal solution which would block most speculations and helped emerging players is to limit number of loanees, mandate loaning only within national federation of the club and finally mandate loaning only to the lower competition levels within that national federation.

  9. I see the early game is Chelsea visiting Southampton. Hoping for the Southampton win there.

  10. The fact that the owner of the club involved in this loan/sell racket can fund the whole thing without falling foul of FFP regulations governing the source of funds used to pay the first team squad makes it even worse. Revenue coming in (either in the form of loan fees or transfer fees) probably goes onto the books as FFP ‘approved’ revenue so the whole scam is money laundering pure and simple.

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