Watford’s "Ludicrous" Loophole

By Gary Troia
Ian Holloway, courtesy of upthepoolblogspot.com

It is a rare occasion indeed when I sit up and take notice of a manager’s post-match clichéd ramblings. But after the Championship game between Watford and Crystal Palace, I began to take notice of what Ian Holloway had to say.

Holloway is usually a great source for an amusing quip, but this time seemed to be truly flabbergasted about the game that had just taken place – and he’s got a point.

The Pozzo family that own Watford, also own Udinese of Serie A, and Granada CF of La Liga. This in itself seems like a massive conflict of interest. For example, it is not inconceivable that one of these clubs could meet in a European fixture in the future – that would be interesting.

Nevertheless, this is not the point of argument here. According to Football League loan rules: A “maximum of two players over 23 from the same club on a standard loan” can be in a squad.

Watford currently has 11 players from Udinese and Granada on loan.

So one would think that Watford is in breach of these rules, right?  Wrong, because another loan rule says: “Players signed on loan deals from abroad (including Scotland) are registered as transfers, not loans.”

Holloway said “We’re only allowed to borrow two from the same team in this country. Unlimited abroad? That gives a licence to people to buy English clubs, chuck all their players over here and have a reserve team.”

Some might say that this is fair play to Watford for finding a loop-hole in their favour for the benefit of the team, but I am with Holloway on this issue. If this loop-hole is not pulled tight, all the big European teams will buy up other Championship sides and just use them as reserve teams for their fringe players to get competitive match experience.

This paves the way for the likes of Bayern Munich, for instance, who could buy a famous club like Nottingham Forest and end up changing the name to Bayern Munich B – this is how serious the ramifications of this loop-hole could be.

Not only that, but as Holloway also said: “But I can’t believe there is such a massive loop-hole, and my question is – where are those English players going to come from?”

If this issue is not addressed soon, the face of English and European football will change beyond all current recognition.

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