Friday, 25 March 2011

The Loan System's Ugly Side

  As a fan of Leicester City, I'm quite glad that we have five top class Premier League players helping our faltering promotion push this season.  Naughton from Spurs, Mee and Cunningham from Man City, Van Aanholt and Bruma from Chelsea and Yakubu from Everton have added some Premier League class to the squad and given the players some much needed first team experience.

  The loan system is great because it does both those things and everyone is happy.  The bigger clubs in England loan out their fringe-players and up-coming youth players all the way down the leagues even past League Two, but down there things get a bit messier.  Thus the situation with Lincoln City and Sunderland's Trevor Carson.

Trevor Carson kicks for the Imps. (thisislincolnshire.co.uk)

  After signing intially for one month, Carson extended his deal to keep him at Sincil Bank until April 23rd after even expressing his desire to be a part of next season's team.  However, a big blow was dealt to the team as Craig Gordon's injury caused Sunderland to recall, leaving Lincoln with just 42-year-old Paul Musselwhite in goal.  Fair enough, it's Sunderland's perogative to recall their own player, especially to cover their first choice but it was what happened next that shows the ugly side of the loan system.

  The next day, fans of League One Brentford were glad to see a young Sunderland goalkeeper come in on loan to cover their newly injured goalkeeper Richard Lee.  That goaly was indeed Mr Carson, taken from Lincoln under seemingly false pretences to gain experience higher up the leagues.  Great for the Bees but where does that leave Lincoln?

Jack Hobbs moved from Lincoln to
Liverpool for £750k at the age of 17 (oleole.com)

   Fortunately, England U20 goalkeeper, Elliott Parish has been brought in from Aston Villa, another advantage of the loan system, but it just seems that the lower league teams can be used and abused by 'bigger' teams in this way.  As Lincoln recently experienced with Jack Hobbs, promising youngsters are often plucked out of lower league clubs to mature in the reserve sides of the Premier League but to no avail.  They will often be messed around like with Carson and end up joining a lower league club again at 21 or 22 having missed a good four years of competitive football had they stayed at their original club.

  While the loan system gives great benefits to clubs that cannot afford permanent class, sometimes it can be messed around by the parent club for their own advantage with no concern for the promotion/relegation battles of the lower leagues.  It's becoming harder and harder to hold on to young stars so how are the 'smaller' clubs meant to manage when their loans are messed around like this?