For a club like Manchester City, with an astronomical wage bill, the prospect of trying to offload the vast swathes of players you have acquired in recent years is a daunting one indeed. Few clubs want to pay similar prices that were initially paid for these players and even fewer want to pay the wages that said players have become accustomed to. Subsequently the option of loaning out unwanted players at a club like Manchester City is an attractive one. They might not be able to sell their players, but at least they can reduce the wage bill. There is nothing wrong with this in itself. Any club who has unwanted players on their pay roll has a responsibility to that player’s career to ensure that they facilitate as much playing time as possible for that player. However when any club allows a player to leave on loan, is it right that the player on loan should be allowed to compete against all of their parent club’s rivals without ever being allowed to face their parent club itself?
Emmanuel Adebayor is the most poignant example but he is not the only one. For a club such as City, for whom money is not an issue, it almost seems to work out to their advantage that they should be able to loan out a top class striker to a rival and therefore allow him to play for Spurs against Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool without having the danger of ever being able to play in matches against City. If Tottenham are paying the majority of his wages then this situation, which benefits City as much as it does Tottenham, has more than a slight negative tint when it comes to the issue of fair competition. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is one of the managers to speak out against such scenarios:
“If he [Adebayor] is on loan, he should be able to play against everybody. That is the only thing I believe. Before, remember, you had a choice. There was a period when you had the choice [of allowing on loan players to play against their parent club] and I never, never refused the choice. I always said ‘yes you can play against us’ even though, one time, we loaned Francis Jeffers and he scored against us. I allowed Jermaine Pennant to play against us with Leeds. I always allowed the players to play. I would allow Nicklas Bendtner to play against us [for Sunderland].”
Is Wenger right? Or is he just bitter that he took a moral stance that in retrospect it seems nobody noticed? A bit of both no doubt, his presumptions that all managers should follow his set of principals often leads to him unreasonably feeling jaded but he does also make a fair point about loan players. How can we claim that our league is fair if certain players are not allowed to play against certain teams? If a club decides to loan out a player then they have to accept that their choice has both advantages and disadvantages. Visions of Sheik Mansour having his cake and eating spring to mind.
If a club were in fact rich enough to not be in a position where they were forced to sell their players then it is even conceivable that they would loan out players instead of selling them for the exact purpose of allowing them to play against their rivals and thus indirectly help their own position in domestic competitions. Clearly this would be an illegality of sorts, to suggest it even sounds mildly outrageous yet whether it is intended or not by the parent club this is exactly what is happening. You have to consider that clubs that loan players from other clubs often have to pay transfer fees to do so and also have to pay a percentage of, if not all of, the player’s wages. Therefore they must be entitles to use that player against every single team. People talk about changing back to the system of choice that we had before, I say we should go one step further. We should make it compulsory for players who are loaned out to be allowed to play against their parent club. For the sake of competition and fairness in our league it is a necessity.
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