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!