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Tammy Abraham exposes loan deal's issues

Thursday 22nd June 2017
Tammy Abraham is set to sign on a year-long loan with Swansea City from Chelsea. The signing exposes the loan structure's key weakness: its inherent unfairness.

After a scintillating year with Bristol City in the Championship, Abraham is set to move to the Liberty Stadium on a second consecutive loan deal. It is almost entirely a smart move for all parties. Abraham needs regular game time. Parent club Chelsea want to see him continue to develop but cannot offer the necessary opportunities given the strength and depth in their squad. Swansea welcome a player who can help it stave off relegation once more.

Additionally, Paul Clement has previously worked with Abraham at Chelsea. The Swans boss understands, better than many, the youngster's skills and shortcomings. He knows what Abraham's training habits, whether the 19-year-old is hard-working and industrious or lazy and distracting. It is a move that, perhaps more so than most that will take place this summer, just works.

Yet, for all its positives, it's inherently unfair.

It is competitively unfair when a player can be loaned from one club to another, typically weaker club in the same division, to play against every other club in that division barring the one that initially loaned them out. And this is not a new issue. In a 2007 Guardian op-ed. Graham Taylor supported Steve Coppell, then Reading manager, who criticised the loan system for the exact same problem.

I do not see any problem with loan deals between divisions but I would have to agree with the Reading manager Steve Coppell on the problems associated with the leading clubs loaning out players to other Premiership sides long-term <...> The very fact that a club can turn around and prevent a player in the same division from featuring against them is not right. It debases the competition when every club in the Premiership has to play against Ben Foster, the Manchester United goalkeeper who is on loan at Watford, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side do not.

Taylor and Coppell are exactly right. Take Arsenal, last season. They were able to loan out both Jack Wilshere and Calum Chambers, to Bournemouth and Middlesbrough respectively. Each played substantial roles in their sides' prospects, appearing in a high number of games. But when it came to playing against Arsenal, neither were eligible.
To further explain the issue, consider Chambers' goal against Manchester City in late April, this season. Chambers opened the scoring for Boro against Pep Guardiola's side. The game ultimately finishing 2-2. City dropped precious points in the race for the top four. It is quite conceivable that Arsenal could have snuck into the top four as a result, not having to worry Chambers would repeat the feat against them in either fixture between the Gunners and Teesiders. That is clearly not fair.

The loan system is a huge benefit to many clubs and players throughout the divisions. Younger players enjoy the precious, first-team experience that enables their continued development. They needn't stagnate in the reserve and youth teams at their parent clubs. In turn, the parent clubs hope to be the future beneficiaries of such development while the recipient clubs receive the positives of having the player for that season. Simply scrapping the loan system would be detrimental to the state of English football.

However, restrictions must be brought in to prevent deals that keep youngsters from playing key matches against their parent clubs. It's an advantage the big clubs don't need.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!


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