by Tony Attwood
Two news items appearing today of wider interest: the advent of a winter break in the Premier League, and the fact that after the longest running case in the history of the Court of Arbitration in Sport, Manchester City have been allowed to sign their 16 year old. (Or at least he was 16 when all this started; he could be quite a bit older now.)
To start with the winter break, it is being said that the FA will announce their decision at the end of the season. The new approach says that the FA, Premier League and the Football League will “allow” clubs to have a break from competitive games throughout January and early February.
It is one hell of a long break! Except, that it turns out it isn’t.
What this means is that the Christmas schedule (which last year included attempts to play games on Christmas Eve as well as other occasions when there simply is no public transport available) continues, on the grounds that (in the words of the Telegraph) “Any reduction to it would have angered supporters.”
When on earth has the view of supporters ever been taken into account?
Indeed Christmas Day used to be a regular fixture in English football, itself getting some of the biggest crowds of the year. These games were stopped because the crowds stopped turning up.
But it turns out this is not a full winter break as much of Europe has. Of course not, because one can never accuse England of doing the same as the rest of football. No, what this amounts to is the fact that all clubs will get 13 consecutive days off, but not the same 13 days off. So just as the drunks stagger back from the pubs, so games in the leagues and FA Cup will be staggered over a six week period, with different clubs having different breaks at different times.
And given that transfer window is open, players could well finding themselves moving from club to club and getting no break, or a 26 day break, depending on how things go.
Of course much of this nonsense comes from the TV companies that refused point blank to lose football from the TV for even a couple of days. Bowing to that pressure the FA then agreed that the 5th round of the FA Cup would be played as a set of midweek games, rather than weekend games. How jolly.
But now moving on to the long running Manchester City legal case the result of this means that Man City will not be facing Fifa attacks on two fronts. The question of FFP and Man City is one that probably won’t come to pass until PSG has been dealt with, but it lurks in the background. However City don’t now have to worry about a two transfer window ban for child trafficking.
Benjamin Garre can now sign for Man City after what one Man City fan described on Untold as the kangaroo court (actually the Court of Arbitration for Sport) reached a decision after nine months.
Because the amount of information the CAS releases about each case is limited we don’t know what it was that took so long in this case – and that remains the most interesting issue. On the surface the case was simple: for EU transfer rules to apply did the player just have to hold an EU passport, or did he also need to be resident in the EU? The CAS decided in the end that the passport was enough, so Man City got the youngster.
Of course this will all change again once the UK leaves the EU, because for everyone outside the EU the lowest transfer age allowable across countries is 18, so I suspect some clubs will be scouting around for 16 year olds in the EU with a certain amount of vigour in the next year.
- A stunning Arsenal weekend for the Women, U23s and U18s
- Just another day at the office. The referee’s view.
From the Arsenal History Society