Football League clubs have been dealt a blow by news that the Emergency Loan and Youth Loan rules are to be scrapped. The rule change, which is set to come in for the start of the 2014-15 season, will prevent clubs from making any changes to their squad apart from during the summer up until the end of August, and during the January transfer window.
Currently, whilst permanent transfer dealings are barred outside the two transfer windows, clubs below the Premier League, including the Conference National division, are able to register players under the guise of an 'emergency' loan of up to 93 days. In practice the word 'emergency' means nothing - we've never heard of a club being refused a loan by the authorities on the basis of "this isn't an emergency" - they are in reality short term loan agreements of between 28 days and 93 days.
On top of this, over the past three seasons, the Football League have allowed a new Youth Loan system to be implemented. These agreements have allowed clubs to borrow other clubs Academy or Centre of Excellence players, or recent graduates on a basis that is closer to a 'work experience' agreement - the parent club can dictate more about how their player is used, including playing them in Reserve and Youth games at the parent club, whilst continuing their first team matches at the loaning club.
Both of these loan deals are in technical breach of FIFA's Transfer Window system, but have been allowed by the Football League and Football Association as a pragmatic way of ensuring that smaller clubs can avoid having to fill their squads up with large numbers of players that they can't afford, and might never play, on the off-chance that they might have an injury crisis.
The Football League's chief operating officer Andy Williamson and the FA’s director of football services Jonathan Hall were summoned to FIFA's headquarters in Zurich six weeks ago, according to the Daily Telegraph. Williamson has now written to all 72 Football League clubs advising them that the two loan systems will have to be ceased in just over two years time:
"I have to advise you that, despite direct representations from both the Football Association and ourselves, Fifa have concluded that our domestic Emergency Loans (and Youth Loans) are contrary to the international statutes covering the Status and Transfer of Players. The effect of this ruling is that short-term loans will not be allowed during the 'closed’ periods between transfer windows, starting from season 2014/15."
The Football League's argument is that the Transfer Window itself is harmful to its member clubs given that it concentrates revenues into only two parts of the season. Williamson adds that they are discussing with FIFA the overall provisions of the transfer window:
"However, Fifa has indicated that they are prepared to review the current international rules and will undertake research to ascertain whether there is support around the world for any relaxation in the present transfer window restrictions. The League will continue to do everything within its power to retain as much flexibility for clubs as possible in this critical area."
Whilst the ruling will still allow Standard Loans to be negotiated between clubs, these deals - which are usually half season or full season loans - will have to be agreed either prior to August 31st, or during the month of January. If a club gets an injury crisis or needs to reshape its squad at any other time of the season, it would be barred from doing so, and would have to make do with the squad it has at the close of the relevant window.
Such a ruling would significantly affect Yeovil Town, who have made widespread usage of the loan system over the past two or three years, particularly concentrating on the Youth Loan market, and a number of short term loans to cover for missing players. So far this season, the club have brought in nine loan players, whilst last season saw them get through 17 loan players - the vast majority of which would be outlawed under the changes.
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