By Tony Attwood
We’ve been here before, and before and before: the issue of the transfers of young players, and the way English clubs treat them. There have been warnings and fines for several clubs over time – Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City – I won’t go through it all again, as we have covered it all before.
This time there was some thought that Fifa, exasperated by Chelsea’s activities with children on an industrial scale might lead to longer bans, particularly as the Spanish clubs that have been banned simply got around the issue by a) appealing to the always compliant arbitration panel CAS and getting the ban cut in half, and then b) simply doubling up their buying in the last window available to them.
But maybe Fifa are mindful that CAS are themselves now the subject of a court investigation as to whether their activities are compliant with EU rules. We await the outcome of that one.
However there is the extra bit this time that the FA have finally been sanctioned for being complicit in the breaching of regulations concerning minors, and that, I suppose, is a tiny step in the right direction.
Chelsea have been caught out no less than 29 times this time around for breaching article 19 – the regulation concerning under age players and breaching regulations on third party involvement with players. They also got a fine – which is fairly meaningless given the wealth of the owner. The FA’s fine is more of an issue (just under £400,000) given their own financial problems. They too will appeal.
Meanwhile there is more trouble brewing for Coventry City FC who have not been able to tell the Football League where they will play next season. (Mind you Tottenham haven’t been able to tell the Premier League for much of this season, but PL rules seem rather more relaxed). Coventry now have until 5 March to give an answer, otherwise they will be thrown out on 25 April – if other clubs support that move.
Coventry City state that they want to do a deal with Wasps Rugby Club who also play at the same ground. But they are owned by Sisu, a financial company, who regularly take actions that are quite hard for mere mortals like me to grasp. Sisu’s main occupation it seems is taking the local council to court, spending £millions in the process – and they appear to lose every time – or at least most of the time (there may have been a couple of cases I missed en route.
Basically because there are on going cases, Wasps can’t agree to stay at the venue, despite the success they have had in attracting a crowd there, and so the whole thing falls apart.
Sisu has been owner of Coventry since the start of 2008, and was blamed for mismanagement by the judge in the 2014 legal case, having stopped paying the rent it should have paid the council for the ground, 18 months earlier. Among other things they took Coventry City to Northampton to play its games for one season. A few of us went to watch one of the games there – the crowd was incredibly tiny.
What next for Coventry is anyone’s guess simply because it is hard to understand what Sisu is doing, in taking on and losing all these court cases.
What next for the FA and Chelsea is easier to see – they will of course appeal, and the compliant CAS will be compliant, unless it is ruled to be acting contrary to EU law in the meantime – although there is no date set for the case against CAS that is being bought.
The Daily Mail in an article just published has found over 40 Chelsea players out on loan at the moment, and suggests that Chelsea might need to bring some of them back to cover for the two window ban. I suspect an appeal, and a lot of spending next summer will see them through – and matters will probably continue as before.
Plus ca change plus la meme chose, as I believe it is said in foreign parts.
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