Blackpool fine not fine by me

In which Jeremy Robson sticks up for Ian Holloway in his hour of need …

At the start of the season every club is required to submit the names of 25 players who will make up their squad for the coming season.

Some of us must wonder what the point of this is, as you can add players and remove them. This is what happened to Anton Ferdinand. He didn’t even have a squad number to begin the season, but soon enough he was in the squad and starting games. So what purpose does this 25 man list serve? I haven’t the foggiest idea!

Blackpool’s boss Ian Holloway made 10 changes (not 19 as originally mistyped!)to his team ahead of a 3-2 defeat away at Aston Villa in November. As a result, Blackpool have been fined £25,000 by the Premier League for breaking rules B13 and E20.

These are the same charges that were brought against Mick McCarthy’s Wolves back in March 2010 when a “weakened team” was judged to have been fielded. Rule E20 states that “in every League Match each participating Club shall field a full strength team.” Fair enough you might say. I would agree if the same charges were levelled against Man Utd and Liverpool, but they are not.

Arsenal vs Manchester Utd 15 May 2009

Van der Sar O’Shea Vidic Evans Evra Ronaldo Fletcher Carrick Giggs Rooney Tevez

Hull v Manchester United 24 May 2009

Kuszczak Rafael Da Silva Brown, Neville De Leat Nani Fletcher Gibson Welbeck Martin Macheda

Ferguson made 10 changes to his team; the same as Ian Holloway did. So, why was Olly and Blackpool charged while Fergie and Man Utd get off? Is it because the Man Utd team included internationals and Blackpool’s presumably didn’t?

Or is it because the result went the way that you might expect in the case of Blackpool (they lost to Villa) whereas Man Utd still beat Hull with their weakened side. OK, but that’s not what the rules specify. Nowhere does it mention the result having any bearing.

If the spirit of the rule is that clubs should not in effect “forfeit games” in advance of a fixture which for whatever reason is considered more important (irrespective of whether it is the Champions League Final or a relegation scrap) then let’s see the rules state that in black and white.

There is huge subjective element when it comes to assessing these situations because in the above case, Man Utd could not be accused of attempting a forfeit when they didn’t lose the game at Hull, but there is no doubt that they ran that risk. It all comes back to the 25 player squad. Surely the purpose of this is to state implicitly that all members of that squad are deemed by the manager to be of a suitable standard to compete in league fixtures. If that isn’t the case then what purpose does it serve?

The rule is an ass and it is being imposed by asses. No longer are clubs penalised by the authorities for fielding ‘weakened sides’ in cup competitions (League and FA) as they used to be, simply because the giants of the game who set up the PL cartel devised rules which benefit the bigger clubs, and which can be used to punish those clubs with smaller squads. Without even a hint of irony, the Premier League statement said (regarding Blackpool) that “the board also considered the team fielded in the FA Cup third round tie versus Southampton and Ian Holloway’s comments concerning the team selected for that game.”

Apparently Olly had said that he was prepared to write off the FA Cup as avoiding relegation was his main aim. There is an appeal procedure, and Olly might want to point out to the hypocrites who sit on that panel that were it not for a last minute goal courtesy of James Collins, that the Tangerines would have left Villa Park with a point.

That wouldn’t have been a bad result for any “weakened team” now would it? Best of luck with the appeal Olly!

11 thoughts on “Blackpool fine not fine by me”

  1. “are they not merely helping the so called bigger clubs remain exactly that”

    Isn’t that the whole point Mr Judd? The rules have been put together by the bigger clubs at the inception of the PL. Essentially what they are saying is “We’ve got a big and strong enough squad so we can get away with it, so don’t you go thinking that because we do it and go unpunished that we won’t come down on you!”

    It’s complete arrogance as well as unjust in extreme. I wish there was some effective way of petitioning them about this.

  2. If Ollie had fielded the team that played against Villa in the first game of the season what would have happened? If the authorities think they can pick and choose which teams to punish are they not merely helping the so called bigger clubs remain exactly that. Would never happen, but it would be interesting to see what the authorities would do if Blackpool refused to play until justice was seen to be done. I for one would support the Blackpool and Wolves in this fight. Exactly what goes through the minds of the people who make these decisions. Don`t suppose anyone will come forward, say on Sky or BBC and try and explain – that would be expecting too much.

  3. As Terry says; one manager’s “squad rotation” is another manager’s “weakened team.” I’m still struggling to understand the purpose of the 25 player squad though in all of this. It seems to serve no other purpose other than as a task to keep administrators pointlessly occupied.

    It would be good to see some support for Blackpool in this but other than the top 4 the rest are wondering whether showing support is likely to harshen any future punishment coming their way for any transgression.

  4. Marcus has hit the nail on the head – what heppens when Man Utd or Arsenal make wholesale changes? Nothing, because their 25 men are an average better than Blackpool’s – allegedly. Just because Arsenal or Man U’s squad cost more than Blackpool’s doesn’t mean that their making 10 changes is any different to Balckpool making 10 changes. What’s the point of being forced to name a squad and then being punished for using playrs from that 25? Why not fine clubs for playing lads from outside that squad who break through from the reserves mid-season? Nonsense, FA, once again

  5. I believe the powers-that-be cannot distinguish between ‘fielding a weakened team’ and ‘resting key players’. The latter is done by teams in the top four whereas the rest of the league do the former. If a manager is required to name a 25 player squad then his choice of team from that squad is entirely his business. Different teams for different circumstances and he should only answer to his chairman and fans.

    Unless, of course, the next step is for a panel from the PL or FA to pick the team for each manager.

  6. This one really boils the fluids . If you have a squad – surely , then you can pick any comnbination of players from that squad as your starting 11 .
    If I was Blackpool I’d accept the fine and send the squad list to the FA before their next game – and ask them to pick the bloody team !!!!
    What , as previous posters say , if Blackpool had drawn , or even won – would the crazy FA still be pursuing them .
    A point neot mentioned – but it would be nice if other Premier clubs were seen to show some support for Blackpool

  7. The fine for Blackpool in general is crazy. OK so there’s a rule – but what about Arsenal earlier this season who fielded something like 9 different players to the previous game and could only manage a draw?

    The rule is crazy and needs to be scrapped. How can the league propose a rule which states you have to have a 25 man squad then fine you when you don’t play the players they want you to??


  8. I’d be only too happy to state the case to the stuffed shirts Alan. There is no appeal because the issue here is not about whether the rule has been enforced correctly, but about whether its application is consistent and equitable. We know it isn’t and it is not the basis on which an appeal can be made.

    Robin; you are totally correct as there was a very similar (well precisely the same) example involving Liverpool. Same number of changes as the other two cases. No charges were brought of course.

    The Man City example you gave brought a smile, but there is a serious side to it of course. Although you spoke in jest, the Man City squad is so full of big money superstars that Mancini probably doesn’t know what his best team is. I think that would provide a wonderful defence to any charges though.

    “How can you say that I we fielded a weakened team? I don’t even know what my best central midfield pairing is!”

    The powers that be are so far removed from reality these days that they don’t have an inkling of when they are making a laughing stock of themselves. This is a perfect example.

  9. Quote: “were it not for a last minute goal courtesy of James Collins, that the Tangerines would have left Villa Park with a point.”

    Excellent point. Also, I would add Rafa Benitez and his policy of Rotation at Liverpool for many seasons resulting in dropped points. That would amount to a heck of a lot of games where they did not field their strongest side. As usual the so called ‘Big’ teams get away with it and the smaller teams get penalised.

    Another Quote: ”
    The rule is an ass and it is being imposed by asses.” Again an excellent view as it is 100% correct. Arsenal almost never field their top 11 when playing smaller teams, so they too should be penalised. Man City NEVER play their top 11 as they do not know who that is.

  10. It is also interesting to note that the players that Olly put out at Villa actually had more premier league appearances amongst them than the players that had payed in their previous match! It wasn’t as if he had played an inexpreienced side..

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