Monday, March 29, 2010

Loan deals, especially the really short term ones, are killing our game.

East Fife have never had as many players on loan as we have this season and I put a lot of the blame for our current relegation woes on this. The reason we are where we are is the frustrating inconsistency we’ve shown all season. How can we have any consistency though when we are bringing players in for such a short period of time and constantly chopping and changing the shape and style of the team, killing teamwork and team building in the process?

It seems like a long time ago now, but the January transfer window didn’t provide East Fife fans with much interest. In fact, looking at it on the whole, it was one of the least exciting transfer windows I can remember.

Whereas you can justify the window, to a certain extent, for the bigger sides around the world, it’s maybe about time that those of us in the lower divisions don’t have a window once again.

With all the money flying around so many teams these days, it is understandable to have some kind of protection in there to stop them buying up rivals top players just to scupper their hopes and build a massive, almost unbeatable squad. You also don’t want them to just buy their way out of any injury problems as well.

Then you have the teams at the bottom of their leagues fighting relegation (like East Fife) and, in the case of the English Premiership, facing a huge cash shortfall that falling out of the top flight brings and which, for many, they fail to recover from. With foreign millionaires and billionaires investing in a lot of these clubs as well, the transfer window for them keeps a level playing field and prevents new owners coming in late in the season and buying survival.

Big money is less likely to be in an issue in a league like ours, but not impossible. When you look at the situation we were in during our Championship winning season of 2007/08, we could, it appeared at least, buy our way out of any trouble and to a title if we’d needed to.

In our present situation, big cash splurges look to be a thing of the past and it’s a similar situation for so many teams in the bottom two divisions in Scotland. A lot of these clubs are in financial peril. Even if we wanted to buy ourselves out of relegation trouble, we don’t have the money to do it or the players available.

Too many clubs have been relying on loan players instead of developing their own youth and their own future. East Fife have been one of them and it’s killed us this season for the reasons I outlined earlier.

It’s hard enough for young players to get a break in the game these days, especially with the bigger sides. So many talented players are being wasted in the reserves. Sure the loan system gets them a bit of playing times, but how many players can you list where this has really worked out to the players advantage? Most of them go back to their clubs, only to be released.

Success is starting to boil down to who you know, and who can do you some favours. It just leads to instability in the team, especially with the really short loan deals, which I see as pretty pointless. There’s been a lot of championships and promotions secured in recent seasons by teams who have had a little bit too much extra help.

I would much rather see the transfer window ditched for the lower leagues. Let clubs like East Fife sign players at any point during the year, players that will be with the club hopefully for the long run, not the short. Let us pick up the players who are going to waste or who have fallen out with their clubs but are not being released.

If you’re worried about big money clubs buying success then put a cap on transfer fees.

Alternatively, we could just ditch the loan system and just develop young players. A shocking idea I know!

Either way, something needs to change for the good of the game and most importantly, the good of East Fife.


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