So the Premier League have recently announced the news which, for the sake of football, nobody wanted to hear. Blackpool have been fined £25,000 for fielding an under-strength team against Aston Villa in November. Yet another way then to get everybody riled at our football governing body for a complete lack of consistency.
I use the word consistency because if I remember rightly, it was the Premier League who recently introduced the 25-man squad rule. So, the Blackpool manager Ian Holloway, recognised he had a congested fixture list, an uphill battle to continue to punch above their weight in this league and a tiring set of ‘first-team regulars’. Well, there’s more than enough reason to maximise the 25-men in your squad isn’t it? Under the ‘strict’ new rules, they are all considered first-team members aren’t they?
Apparently not. Blackpool have been fined for breach of the following rules:
“In every League match each participating club shall field a full strength team.” And, “In all matters and transactions relating to the League each club shall behave towards each other club and the League with the utmost good faith.”
So within a 25-man squad, the Premier League still expect teams to field the same eleven week in week out? I’m pretty sure the top clubs don’t do that. Manchester United may consider Ryan Giggs one of their best 11, but he doesn’t play every week. Not because he’s unfit or suspended, but because his manager chooses to keep him fresh for other games. Or maybe, he has another option better suited against certain opposition.
What’s more, Blackpool have been accused of acting unfaithfully against Aston Villa and the Premier League? What a joke. Blackpool have been a credit to the league this season. They have become every fans second club. Against Villa, they were seconds away from taking a point away had it not been for James Collins’ late winner. They wouldn’t be the first club to suffer a list minute defeat irrespective of which players were picked out of the 25-man squad.
The most worrying aspect of this whole ridiculous saga is that Holloway actually threatened to resign if his club faced disciplinarily action. Now, I’m not his biggest admirer. in fact, I sometimes think he tries too hard to be a little eccentric. But he has been the most entertaining manager we’ve had since Jose Mourinho, and many tend to forget just how good a job he has done because people are too busy laughing at him.
The Premier League have made a mockery of their own rule and consequently the teams in question. Many felt it was daft enough that Wolves faced similar punishments when they played an under-strength side against Manchester United last season. Mick McCarthy’s decision was vindicated as his rested players went on to win a crunch bottom-of-the-table clash against Burnley – a much more realistic task, but his club were still fined.
Now Ian Holloway and Blackpool have come against the same brute force trying to make an example of the smaller clubs who don’t have the luxury of the big boys. Unfortunately, the only ones they have made an example of our themselves. Blackpool have illuminated the Premier League only to be let down in turn by them. A 25-man squad? Only if they are all deemed good enough, it would seem. If Holloway does resign, I personally put forward Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore for the job…