Often Partisan

Loans and Feeders

It was published in the Telegraph today that FIFA are to ban “emergency” and “youth” loans as currently allowed by the Football League from the 2014-15 season as they contravene FIFA laws on transfer windows. It got me thinking about how this could impact us at Blues, and whether it was a good idea or not.

I’m not a fan of the transfer window as it is; I think it’s caused more problems than it has solved and I’d like to see a return to a situation whereby players can be bought and sold up to a deadline in March, as it used to be. I always thought that allowing the smaller teams in the league to loan players kinda made up for it; they could bring in players to fill gaps in teams and could maybe offer games to young up and coming players who need match practice.

Take for example Birmingham and England u21 keeper Jack Butland. His youth loan spell with Cheltenham Town gave him lots of first team action (whilst still being able to train for a couple of days a week here in Brum). It’s pushed his footballing education along and has raised his profile massively – and has meant that he’s now an actual asset in the Blues squad – all without having to risk an untried rookie in the Championship. It’s worked out well for us, it’s worked out well for Cheltenham Town and it’s worked out well for Jack Butland – everyone is happy.

Without these kinds of loans young players will only be allowed to leave the club for half-season periods at the shortest, with no probable means of recall meaning that in an injury crisis that they cannot be brought back to their parent club to fill in. It also cripples teams at the lower end of the professional pyramid who depend on these kinds of loans to fill their squads without having to necessarily commit to having a massive squad that they cannot potentially afford.

One of the problems that clubs face (and what makes the loan market worthwhile) is the lack of a proper competitive reserve league, particularly for under 21 players. Birmingham City aren’t the only team to have withdrawn their teams from the reserve leagues – it’s happened at many clubs as managers want to be in a position whereby they get some consistency in the level of reserve team games that are played. After a player is no longer eligible for the academy team (u18), the gap between there and the first team is massive. Being loaned out to a lower division club is often a vital part of a player’s education, as they learn to deal with the full-on physical aspects of playing football week in, week out coupled with having the mental stamina to continue to improve and to be consistent when playing.

I think ending the loan system will lead English football down the rocky road towards nursery/feeder clubs. There isn’t another league system in the world that supports as many fully professional clubs and I can see a situation where teams like Manchester United and Liverpool push for being allowed to play a reserve/feeder team in the lower leagues so that they can continue to develop talent. It’s not a road I’d like to see us go down.

FIFA has apparently agreed to canvass opinion as to whether the transfer window is working and to look into the complaints of the Football League – whether it will come to anything is another matter. As is stands, clubs in England have two and a half years to work out how the hell they’re going to work with this latest diktat from Nyon.

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9 Responses to “Loans and Feeders”

  • Violent Pacifist says:

    Bin the transfer window

    Bin the loan system

    Make clubs operate as they should

  • dean64 says:

    Sorry I don’t write much just enjoy reading but I’ve got to say Violent Pacafist is a cock head If the loan system were to end we would see a rapid decline in the development of young players and many of the current league clubs just would not be able to survive.

  • Violent Pacifist says:


    You’ve been brainwashed

  • ScudMuffin says:

    I think the league(s) need a shakeup anyway. Revision of the European births along with the league system in terms of number of teams and such. Transfer caps in terms of players coming in and out per season, money payable and how it’s paid, probably some other stuff too.

    I can see problems with scrapping loans and emergency loans, I can also see some benefits. We aren’t going to see teams take on loan players if they can’t give them good spells of playing. I can also see decent players having careers cut short because they get injured, come back and someone else takes their squad place and can’t secure a loan to show what they can do.

    Think that maybe a Union/League style setup as is had in Rugby may add some form of help.

  • John says:

    PersonallyI don’t think FIFA should have any say, in any countries domestic programme. It should only be there for International Football. We gave the world, the wonderful game of football,we have organised our football leagues for over 100 years and it is since FIFA and EUFA have been involved,that most of the problems in football have materialised. The change in the offside law being one of the most stupid.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    The old saying, surely holds good,!!. If it aint broke,?. It does not need fixing,!!.

    In short;, leave well alone, [ except transfer window ], there I agree with you,!!!.

  • Violent Pacifist says:

    we would see a rapid decline in the development of young players and many of the current league clubs just would not be able to survive.

    Apart from the abusive name calling why is this so?

    If young players stay at the one club they are stable, more confident and in a better frame of mind to learn. I believe stopping loans would benefit young players instead of shipping em here, there and everywhere. If a player is good enough he don’t need farming out to the arse end of nowhere for a kicking every week at some manky no hope club. I don’t see this fantastic loan system we currently have bringing top class internationals through to the England team. Also we see it time and time again loanees coming in and doing jack, normally on big wages.

    Many of the current league clubs wouldn’t survive? How? How is the loan system helping keep clubs operating? Lots of clubs are on shit street right now and for lots of reasons but I ain’t heard one blame the loan system for it? And as for the transfer window that just stifles trade between clubs for 10 months of the year and inflates prices. A far bigger problem to smaller clubs than the loan system.

  • Carl says:

    Violent Pacifist’s argument is confused. “Lots of clubs are on shit street right now and for lots of reasons but I ain’t heard one blame the loan system for it?” isn’t a reasonable argument to bin the current system regarding loans – this is about youth development and helping clubs who can’t afford to keep taking permanent risks with permanent transfers.

    He says “we see it time and time again loanees coming in and doing jack, normally on big wages”: don’t confuse bringing in the David Bentley’s with the Jack Butland’s of this world. Look how helpful it was to Manchester City, Blues and Joe Hart to use the loan system. Think of how useful it’s been to clubs like Arsenal watching their players play week in, week out, for a club like Blues and then decide whether to sell or continue their development. Maybe if Blues had used the loan market for a player like AJ, we’d have seen the best years of his career in a Blues shirt instead.

    The Youth loan system adds the flexibility to all parties and helps the younger players build the mental strength required.

  • Chris says:

    The way I see it there are two aspects to this. Firstly the loan system is key for clubs at all levels. In the last few years Blues have used the loan system to their benefit on a number of occasions – look at Bendtner, Larsson and Muamba – very unlikely we would have been promoted that year without those players. By taking these guys on loan we clearly benefited, the players did and ultimately Arsenal did too as they were able to judge whether the players were good enough for them (and ultimately they cashed in on those they deemed to be surplus to requirements (Larsson and Muamba) and kept Bendtner). We benefited through promotion and testing the players out before spending £5m-£10m on them (from memory).

    There are loads of examples of how it can benefit the players and other teams. Just look at Cleverley, Ramsey, Wiltshire and Sturridge in the past couple of years. Even Mr Beckham started somewhere (Preston). Jordan Mutch has spent three or four spells out on loan and he is now being seen as the saviour of the team (not to add to the pressure on him, given he hasn’t played 90 mins in 4 months and has only ever played about 10 games for us). In my opinion you simply cannot allow the loan system to be scrapped as it is far too valuable for all parties.

    What does need to be looked at is the way that the biggest clubs are allowed to mop up all of the top talent, whether it be at the youth level or at a more established level. The examples I have used above are players coming from the top 5-6 teams where the risks are too high to simply throw young players in (of course their are notable exceptions). This isn’t restricted to youth though. Would England only now be realising the talent that is Scott Parker had he not moved to Chelsea and stagnated for 2 years, similarly would Shaun Wright-Philips be at QPR today had he not moved to Chelsea all those years ago? This is the reason why Redmond and Butland should elect to stay with Blues, even if the big boys come knocking in January.

    Sadly what it comes down to is money, and unless something is done then the big sides will continue to get bigger and be able to have as many players as they want. Wage caps seem to be the obvious solution but without a UEFA or FIFA ruling covering all leagues we would struggle to retain the true top talent in England, be it British or foreign, youth or not.

    Players tend to find their level naturally in the end, but the loan system allows teams to get a true early indication of whether a player will make it or not, whilst giving the players some experience of getting out into the real world, away from the Academy and seeing football the way it should be played.

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