Loan model threatened by Football League plans
Charlton owner and Belgian entrepreneur Roland Duchâtelet has set up a network of European clubs which he hopes will exchange players as part of a player development plan that keeps agents out of the picture. It's an interesting experiment which reflects the dynamic of Europeanisation in the game as we discussed in our 2011 book The Transformation of European Football: the Europeanisation of the National Game.
Whether the experiment works remains to be seen, but it is in the nature of experiments that their outcome is uncertain. If one believes in the virtue of small scale experiments as a means of bringing about change, it is worth trying. Many Charlton fans are unhappy about the scheme, but, like all football fans, it's nothing unusual for them to be gloomy about their own club.
However, now the scheme is threatened by plans out for consultation by the Football League as their response to Greg Dyke's FA Commission. They are proposing a ban on all foreign loan players (whether this is compatible with the right to freedom of movement within the EU is something that only a sports lawyer could say).
At present clubs can sign only eight players on loan from overseas clubs over the course of a season, a measure taken in response to the extensive use of such players by Watford. They brought in 14 players on loan last season before the rules were tightened up. Only five loan players of any origin can be named in a match day squad.
It is also proposed that a minimum of nine home grown players would be included on the team sheet for each match from next season, a figure that might increase to eleven in the future. 'Home grown' players must have spent three years at a FA-affiliated club while under the age of 21. There would also have to be two players under 21 on the substitutes bench.