Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has called on FIFA to rethink the ban on short term loan spells for players aged 21 or under.
A few season’s ago FIFA in their infinite wisdom decided to scrap 28 day and 93 day loan spells during the transfer window and having first come into effect in the Premier League, the Football League managed to delay it’s implementation for a short period of time from memory, and with plenty voicing their concerns at how it would impact lower level clubs and not least the development of youngsters, most involved have continued to try and find a way round it or at least to get FIFA to acknowledge a more fair set of regulations.
With the rules coming into play for the 2016/17 season the option for short term loan spells outside of the transfer window were scrapped, and left many wondering why, if FIFA needed to make a change, they couldn’t allow 28/93 day loans within the transfer windows themselves.
Ian Holloway summed it up nicely at the time whilst talking to Sky Sports.
‘If my washing machine breaks, I shouldn`t have to wait until the end of the year to fix it. It`s madness. What happens if I haven`t got enough money to have two washing machines? Newcastle will have two or three, so they`ll be more efficient and I`ll be walking around in dirty clothes looking like a tramp.’
The one condition brought in upon the changes applying to any player who moved on a loan spell in the regular window was that his parent club could continue to utilise them in non first team football – ie Under 23 level as it’s now known. The practical implications of bringing a player back however for a 90 minute run out basically rule out that option though.
This is the issue Bruce raised when speaking to the Birmingham Mail earlier this week.
He pointed out that players aged 21 or under should be exempt from these regulations and continue to be allowed out for a month to a maximum of three and he cites the situation at Villa where there is huge interest in our youngsters, but we either lose them completely for half a campaign or not at all, and he has sided with not at all in many cases – even though he knows it’s having a negative impact on their development.
A case in point is Matija Sarkic who headed to Wigan Athletic with the thought of getting good game time. He has only played three times, helping them to three wins, but under the old system he could’ve been recalled and loaned out elsewhere to get the experience.
‘We`ve had lots of enquiries. The problem with the young ones is, if they could go for a month I would encourage it. But going for four months, you don`t see them enough. And if they don’t play it can become a problem. Sometimes not seeing them for so long is a bit of a disadvantage.’
Calling him back from Wigan and expecting him to travel back the same night, with training the next day given he’s their back up option on the bench shows the stupidity of FIFA’s exception for players here.
‘I think there should be a new rule where maybe an U21 player can go for a month or so. I don`t know how you get round that, though. We`ve had lots of teams asking, but we need to be careful. Look at Matija Sarkic for example, he goes to Wigan and we expected him to play, he doesn`t. Then he`s stuck there for four months.’
Whilst having benefits for the development of players and players coming back from injury, it was also a great lifeline for lower league clubs who largely carry smaller player numbers and where injuries have an adverse effect.
Quite how, in FIFA’s mind, this damaged the integrity of the sport or whatever they wibbled at the time remains beyond me. Greater steps to improve their own integrity should’ve been the main purpose I’d have though.
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