The Football Association are reported to be on the verge of agreeing a new loan system that would replace the outgoing Emergency Loan system that many Football League clubs use. The current Emergency Loan system will come to an end at the end of the 2015-16 campaign with FIFA having decreed that it breaches the terms of their transfer window system. Despite a number of years in which the Football League has managed to roll over extensions to that arrangement, it became fairly clear that this time around FIFA would not be allowing any last minute rollover, and that this time the Football League would be told 'no more'.
The position that left clubs in was that they would only be able to agree half-season or full-season loan agreements during the Summer and January transfer windows, and that between September 1st and December 31st, and from February 1st until the end of each season, clubs would be bound to the squads that they had selected, even if they had injuries or changes of management. The scale of this problem, and how it would affect Yeovil Town can be seen by the fact that the only loan deal they initiated this season for a player on a half or full season deal was Fulham centre-back Stephen Arthurworrey, who has since returned to Craven Cottage due to a serious knee injury and is not expected to play again this season.
For the majority of Yeovil Town's other loan agreements, they have managed low-key monthly roll-over agreements, which give the flexibility that if a player starts dropping out of a squad, or is injured, then the club can allow him to return to his parent club whilst they look for a replacement. In the new world, they would have to take those players on half-season agreements, with the risk that they might not be up to first team football, and with no possibility of refreshing the first team squad if the sort of injury epidemic that plagued the Glovers during the first half of this season materialised.
Thankfully, it seems as though there may be a new loan format on the horizon. The FA's Sanctions and Registrations Committee are due to meet today to vote on a new loan deal which would respect FIFA's half-season/full-season loan arrangements, but would work much in the same way that Youth Loans currently work, in that a player can return to his parent club within that half-season period, and play Reserve or Under-21 fixtures for them, as a dual registration mechanism, then later return back to the loaning club. Currently this system is only allowed for a club's Academy graduates, who are under the age of 24, but now looks as though it will be opened up to all age groups. The expectation is that player would not be allowed to join a second club on loan during that half-season period.
The Daily Telegraph speculates that clubs may move towards appearance-based loan agreements, where the loaning club pays more of the player's wages during the weeks that they are at the lower league club, although we've also heard of the reverse principle being used, where a loaning club is given an incentive to put that player in their side, via lower wages, to ensure their player gets valuable first team experience.
Existing loan rules are expected to be maintained - clubs will only be able to select up to five loaned players in an eighteen man squad, and will only be able to loan four players per season from a single club, including two over the age of 23 years old. Special provisions for goalkeepers will remain if clubs do not have a registered fit goalkeeper who has made at least five first team appearances for the club.
Football League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey is hopeful the arrangements will be approved by the Football Association in time for the 2016-17 season:
"We are pleased that we have been able to secure the support of both the FA board and the Premier League for these proposals which, if approved, would enable us to apply a domestic interpretation that would still be compliant with Fifa statutes. The flexibility this approach seeks to create will be crucial to the operation of our clubs and helpful to those players that find themselves out of the first-team picture or just cutting their teeth in professional football. Clearly, we could have waited to see what might develop under the new rule regime, but instead decided the matter needed addressing at the outset because of the financial and footballing needs of our clubs. Yet, at the same time we remain respectful of our previous commitments to FIFA."
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