Often Partisan


One of the things that has struck me of late is the impermanence of the Blues team. It seems every season for the last few years the squad has changed drastically and that nobody has been with the club for any length of time. So far this year Blues have already loaned six players in; last season it was nine (ten if you count Butland). With this in mind I wondered if this was a new thing or something that has crept up on us.

As of this moment in time, Blues have three players who have made more than 100 total appearances for the club – Nikola Zigic (122), Chris Burke (124) and David Murphy (132). In addition to those three, there is Wade Elliott who has been stuck on 99 since he was sent off versus Stoke City. Compare this to the situation in 2003; Blues had been in the Premier League for a season and thus a raft of new players had come in – but there were eight players over the benchmark 100 figure at the end of the 2002/03 season in league appearances alone – Ian Bennett (281), Paul Devlin (121), Martin Grainger (222), Geoff Horsfield (105), Bryan Hughes (222), Michael Johnson (262), Stan Lazaridis (124) and Darren Purse (159) with four of them having made over 200 league appearances for the club.

So what has changed? We have to accept that the club is in a different financial landscape now, with shorter contracts being the norm and players being sold on to help keep the club going. Furthermore, prior to that season in the Premier League Blues had been in the same division for a long period of time with a fairly steady management basis so there wasn’t a need for the team to be massively changed season on season; contrasting with the last few seasons where Blues have yo-yoed between the top two divisions and have had three managers in three years.

All that being said, I do believe the landscape of football has changed in general and this impermanence is reflected across the division. It seems that players don’t spend so long with one club due to managers changing more frequently and clubs having to be more careful on the contracts they hand out. Furthermore, the amount of loaned players has massively risen – I don’t have figures to hand but I would hypothesise that there are far more players loaned to Championship clubs now than ten years ago.

It might be a step too far to take but I also believe that this impermanence is one of the things that is slowly turning people away from football that have traditionally been fans. With players spending shorter spells with clubs it’s harder to see loyalty from players and I think it affects fans; it’s not hard to find people who are unhappy with the amounts of money paid to players and I wonder if this disaffection is slowly changing football from a sport to something that is considered purely entertainment for the fans.

It’s understandable with the money in the game and the relative brevity of a footballer’s career that they would maximise their earning potential; after all, loyalty alone doesn’t pay a mortgage. That being said I wonder if this is another symptom of how money is slowly changing the game from a sport to something that is purely an “entertainment product” – and I wonder how much further that will go before things are changed irrevocably.

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62 Responses to “Impermanence”

  • It is not just the men’s game this is happening in. The women’s game is starting to become monetized too.

  • tmsblues says:

    Absolutely agree. Loyalty is a two way thing and sadly on the playing side this has been lost. There was a much closer relationship between fans and player in the past built over time. Money is the root cause either for luring players to a better honeypot of gold or for the ruination of clubs like ours that can no longer afford to keep good players young or old. The womens game will slowly go the same way. Look at blues ladies.. right up there or aspiring to be at the top when they had a team that wanted to play for playing sake. But now they are slowly being lost to the dollars offered by the Chelsea s of this world. Truth is if in the same position guess we’d all take the Russian or Arabic dollar even if it was to sit on the bench as some do.. but what a waste of talent!

  • RichieBCFC says:

    I don’t see the point in this article, I nearly fell asleep reading it.

  • Carlosh says:

    I said a few years agao that football will eat itself The rise in player wages TV deals etc With all this they have forotten about the fan This is why stadiums are empty and clubs end up in financial dung. Loan players are a way for clubs to survive but who’s going to get a loan players name on the back of their shirt when he’s off in a month/

  • RichardW says:

    The decline of reserve team football has led to the upsurge in loan deals although this is because of finance too. Barry Fry was only able to maintain such a large squad (40-50 at one time) because most of them got a regular game one way or another and the reserve matches were sometimes worth seeing.

  • mark says:

    Simple no money no squad
    Its terrinle I know but truth even accad/reserve football costs

  • TonyE says:

    Isn’t part of the problem the way that Premier league teams hoover up all the emerging talent from the football league, usually for a pittance and then have nowhere to play them, so they loan them out otherwise they would stall in their development.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I think there are more loan players now, especially in the Championship, because the big clubs are buying (robbing) all the young talent that’s around, just to stop others getting their hands on them. They offset some of the cost by loaning the players out to other clubs.

    As for footballers’ careers, surely they’re lasting longer these days. Years ago, most players were finished once they entered their thirties. Now, they’re going on into their mid to late 30s.

  • SouthernBlue says:

    Lower league clubs are having to use the “loan system” like a budget transfer market due to financial constraints placed upon, both in terms of financial fair play rules, dwindling supporter numbers and economic circumstance. By far and away we have more loaned played than we did 10 years ago because they have become such a necessity. Clubs can no longer afford to transfer players in, so they add to their ranks for either extra quality or to simply have a full match day squad by using the loan system. it is another reason why we are seeing such a high turnover of players at the blues, because we simply don’t have a squad big enough (or good enough) to compete without using loan players.

    on a personal note, I preferred the loan system when it was used to compliment a squad, a rare player of real quality that was at either end of their career looking for regular games that added a bit of flare or spice to the team. Now our loan players tend to be on an equal level of ability to our playing squad and don’t offer anything exciting (except maybe Lingard).

    The squad will not settle until the club settles, either pushing for promotion or sustained PL existing or have ownership that offers consistency

  • Chris W says:

    Another thing that has changed is the players relationship with the fans, My friend lived between two first team regulars who always chatted with the fans and were seen at the school gates signing autographs, Joe Bradford told me stories of catching the bus to home games and cycling to Elmdon for training.
    I met Dave Latchford in Birmingham City Centre once, after a game on a dark damp foggy November night Trevor Hockey gave me a lift home as it was late and I was waiting for a bus and Paul Taite was often seen chatting in the Glebe.
    Players live in their own world, isolated from supporters, they all receive extortionate wages, how many supporters can boast a salary of £5k per week let alone £60k, some, those on minimum wage, will be lucky to see that a year after deductions.
    Do the young fans still go to the players entrance and collect autographs.
    After a game though most Blues players applaud the crown only Robbo and Dan Burn always go round the pitch applauding the loyal supporters whether we win, draw or lose.
    But you are right, there is no loyalty shown by the players anymore and most are only used by clubs and cashed in when things get tight, successful clubs, Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal keep a regular group of players but in the championship they are dazzled by the bright lights and hefty pay cheques, Redmond and Butland two most recent departures, surely, after being with the club so long, they had a choice and refused to sign for Norwich or Stoke respectively?
    The players need to be more approachable, be seen in the community and interacting with those who give their hard earned cash and not just on promotional projects.
    I played for a local team and for one important game borrowed the penguin kit, I had a laugh with the lady who washed the kit then about getting blood on the shirt, the Club also needs to be interacting with communities more too, not just commercially.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      And if you look at all the players who have left us in the last 3 years, how many have gone on to better things?

      • Chris W says:

        Depends on how you look at better? Roger Johnson is the only player at a club in a lower league than us, though is at Sheff Wed on loan, most left for Premier football and a few are still there, just in some cases, Butland is at Barnsley on loan and I think Redmond is the only regular at the moment playing Premier football with injuries.
        But are they happier, are they better off, financially possibly… and that is the root of the majority of problems in football today,
        A club gets relegated and they sell their assets, the players are in a win win situation, stay up negotiate a pay rise, relegated they move on to another premier club.
        I’ll say it again, players should not be allowed to move to a club that is above the team relegated until the first transfer window and wages should be reduced to that of the league they are relegated too, maybe they will put in 110% all season.

        • Smudge says:

          I have often thought that the league should implement a pay scale for the players based on which league they are in, it would be then down to the clubs to implement bonus’s to the squad based on various criteria (goals, assists, clean sheets and discipline etc) the club can nominate their own bonus amounts based on revenue/affordability. it is my belief that the players would then have the onus on them to perform instead of just picking up a huge pay checks for warming the bench or under performing. Like I say it is just a thought of mine

          • Chris W says:

            Just like mine is a thought, but seems a good one and would make financial sense.
            I remember back in the 60’s that goalscorers got a bonus everytime they scored and if I am right there was a whoo Haa from defenders as they didn’t qualify.

      • glyn rees says:

        All of them Staffs , all of them

    • chris says:

      To be fair to Jack and Nathan i don’t think either wanted to go and from the bits i’ve read on Nathan i think he thought or was told, the club may go into admin and / or people would lose their jobs and he didn’t want that on his shoulders.

      • Chris W says:

        Isn’t that a form of blackmail, maybe emotional, and illegal.
        They never came out and said they didn’t want to go, or that they were told the consequences if they didn’t leave. They just left and took their signing on fees and said nothing, as has been said, no loyalty to the club or the supporters, I suppose they were also paid a fee to say nothing too.
        Years ago you had players asking for a transfer, today they refuse to ask so they get a fee to leave….

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Has been said so very often, — But very true, When the Premier league came being, We all were happy about it, — What we did not realise though was the way it would become so money oriented,!!.

    Sky, willing to pay big bucks for the top division of footbal, The the extra influx of Champions league,
    Do we rember it was only the top 2, clubs only,?, Then the money men took over and it was extended to top 4, clubs !!.

    The Europa leage was F-A and League cup only,– Then that got extended to 5th place Premier.

    Despite all ” promises,” of fitering down some monies to the lower leages The already fat-cats get richer, whilst the lowe league gets poor,er !!.

    Whilst I and others begrudge, the present state of finacial affairs, — Strangely enough — It has forced cost cutting upon all lower leagues, which will be more benifial long term for those that survive, ??.

  • Gianni says:

    The Premier League to football is what WWF was to wrestling

  • Casper says:

    It’s lack of stability and perceived loyalty in football that’s driving me more towards rugby union being my favourite sport. That and the silly money involved, lack of sportsmanship (diving) and petulance (chatting back to the ref).


    • chris says:

      Rugby union!! is that the sport where the prem gets all the money yet again and the championship consists of many part time players and the clubs at the top of the championship are the full time clubs usually funded by rich owners, so killing the sport dead unless you’ve got money or are in the prem.
      boy, that sounds familiar.
      Also, the monopoly or cartel of the prem where only one club is relegated, whereas in the lower leagues it’s two or three that are relegated
      sorry it’s a joke sport
      Name a major team sport that isn’t based on wealthy owners, a invitation closed monopoly of wealthy or debt laden clubs or a top division with all the money and little trickling down.
      Rugby union, rugby league, speedway, ice hockey, football, basketball, womens football.
      Would county cricket be an exception?

  • Big Al says:

    I don’t agree that people are put off football by regular changes in the playing staff. Chrisophe Dugarry is lauded as a Blues legend – yet he was with us and gone in the blink of an eye.

    • Royalblue says:

      Dugarry was an exception, the best player I have ever seen down here by far.
      I personally hate the loan system, for the most part just players trying to get match fit for their parent clubs. They can’t possibly have the desire you get from your own players.
      But I understand why clubs use it because that is the financial reality of it.
      Money runs football and in my opinion that is why you can forget fan ownership.

      • StaffsBlue says:

        I’m not a fan of loan players either… but without them these past few seasons, we’d have been right in the brown stuff.

        • Chris W says:

          The loan system began as emergency cover, and that still applies, but clubs found a loophole and it has become part and partial of our game. It has helped many clubs in financial turmoil as well as giving young players experience in playing regularly and to larger crowds.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Lingard’s loan has been extended to January 1st.

  • dave mann says:

    bang on Big Al, dugarry is and always will be a legend for what he did in less than a year at blues.
    this day and age theres no loyalty in playing for a club unless they pay big bucks, we dont pay big
    bucks so our home grown players will all leave, if there good enough, and play for bigger and better
    paying clubs, thats the way it is. You can play for blues for 5/ 10 years and not be known as a
    legend because they were average players, dugarry played for blues 5/10 months and is a legend
    because he was, imo, the most gifted player weve ever had and was a pleasure to whatch.
    i dont think fans are to bothered about loyalty if your mr average, only if your mr sublime. KRO.

  • Roy Smith says:

    The trouble with football? For every Geoff Horsefield there are 50 David Bentleys.

  • dave mann says:

    it doesent get you quality or commitment in zigic’s case but you cant knock is loyalty can you
    Royalblue, hes stayed all through this rough 2/3 years weve had and has never once come
    out and said he wants to leave, what a man, what a legend!!! ( only joking but who can blame him
    when hes on 50/60 k a week for not wanting to leave), still scored some important goals for us so
    i suppose he will never be forgotten for what ever reasons you have personally.KRO.

    • Royalblue says:

      I like the humour Dave but the ‘ he has scored some important goals’ thing has worn a bit thin with me. After all that’s what he is paid for.
      I have accepted his lack of quality but just give us some effort please !
      Question :, if Zigic offered to play for £5000 a week would you offer him a new contract?
      Personally I would get rid if he offered to pay us!

  • The Flying Pig says:

    I think the ‘impermanence’ transcends football; how many people do you hear about who have been made redundant by their employer. There used to be some stigma attached to this, but it’s affected so many people that it seems quite rare to find anyone who hasn’t been made redundant.

    Of course, the significant difference is that the impermanence in football is led by the employees at the top end [albeit many footballers at the other end find themselves redundant too]!!

    Sky money is the root of the evil, but, arguably, you could trace the current owes all the way back to the abolition of the minimum wage [OK, that’s stretching it a bit, but you get my drift]. Further, Msr. Bosman and the rules of the EC have caused football more problems and then the clubs have had to adapt. The loan market is just a further adaptation by Clubs as they try and find a way to achieve success against the backdrop of all the talent being swallowed up by the big clubs. The latest development which sees the big clubs being able to ‘steal’ talent from academies in return for a paltry fee is just a further nail in the coffin of the game I grew up with.

    I detest the way football has gone in recent years, but what am I going to do about it? Nothing; because I’ll just carry on dreaming about amother day like 27 November 2011.

    Unfortunately, the game of football knows this very well and so treats its customers like dirt.


  • StourportBlue says:

    I think you mean 27th February 2011 but I get your point (unless you arrived in Braga a few days before the match and got on it !!)

  • bluenose08 says:

    Interesting article yes things have changed from the days of Malcolm page and money does come in to it but its interesting that Ryan giggs has stopped at man utd. Colin doyle hasn’t been mentioned and I would consider him as loyal bluenose. K.r.o.

  • Tony says:

    Page married the managers daughter, and Doyle has made a decent living out of being a very average keeper. He has not done bad out of blues.

  • toby says:

    Money has been the route of footballs evil for a long time.Clubs continue to treat fans as nothing but a market to exploit and governing bodies are a shambles.Uefa introduced the champions league for more revenue and fifa increased the amouNt of teams in world cups for the same.Our own f a seem more interested in wembley making money than scheduling meaningful games that might actually benefit the national team.As for players loyalty then you have to go back a long time.How few and far between are one club players anymore ?.

  • Chris W says:

    Is that not a sexist remark and yes people do care about Women’s football and Birmingham City ladies are quite successful too.

  • DoctorD says:

    Bit random, but does anyone know the exact day Zigic’s contract expires? Basically the day can’t come soon enough for me.

    • DoctorD says:

      Basically, if fans are paying about £20 a ticket to watch a game, then Zigic’s £60k a week pay-packet is equivalent to 3000 fans forking out for his wage bill each week. Of course, that little calculation ignores all other forms of income, but then as almajir said, about 84% of Birmingham City’s income is currently going on wages.

    • almajir says:

      All footballer contracts expire on June 30. Doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll stop paying him then – I think if he’s not fixed up we have to pay him until August.

  • mark says:

    I believe loyalty has long gone, they can kiss the badge as many times as they want…we are in the here and now, fans have to accept players will put their ego,s and family first. We have to make the most of tf and dugarry who come and grace our turf thats why we put our money where our mouth are. Equally blues fans love a players who give 100% commitment, desire, sweat………….

  • Re does any one care about Women’s football. I did not care too much until I took my wife and daughter to our first Blues Ladies game. (2nd home game in the Women’s Super League). It was like going back in terms of the atmosphere. Fans mingled and talked about Football with each other. The players took the time to chat with the fans at the end of the game. The standard is not bad either. The Blues Ladies have averaged 3-400 playing at Stratford Town, now that they will be playing at Solihull Moors from next season that should rise considerably, and just the other week the Ladies played at St Andrews for the first time ever and over 1,000 turned up to a game that was only moved to St Andrews at the last moment. To the point again, there is a growing following of the Ladies game. Indeed my daughter has got into watching the men as well as the ladies after going to the Blues Ladies!

  • Martin Grainger says:

    Right on Almaj

  • […] more because the whole direction football is taking. I’ve spoken before about the relative impermanence of player’s careers with single clubs and I can’t help but think we’re seeing a […]

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