Blackpool Vs. The Premier League – The Losing Battle

by Alex McCarthy

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Despite Blackpool boss Ian Holloway’s now void and empty resignation threat, the Premier League fined The Tangerines £25,000 for fielding a weakened team against Aston Villa on November 10th.

The steps taken, in which Wolves suffered a similar fate last season, were taken as it is was deemed that manager Holloway breached Premier League rules B.13 and E.20 by making ten changes to his line-up. The basis of the decision is made over a three game period, where the consistency is questioned from the period prior to their away day at Villa Park, to the fixture with West Ham three days later.

A statement on the club’s official website read: “Blackpool football club can confirm the Premier League board has found the club guilty of breaches of rules B.13 and E.20 in relation to the team fielded by the club in its fixture against Aston Villa on 10th November 2010.”

At the beginning of the season, each club registers 25 players. The manager acquires, assembles and utilises his squad, takes the credit when they win, and the flack when they lose. Blackpool actually narrowly lost to Villa 3-2 thanks to a last gasp James Collins effort, and a point away from home to a regular top half team, for a newly promoted outfit, would have been definite vindication.

How can the Premier League define what is and isn’t your strongest team? That’s incredibly disrespectful and insulting not only to the players in question, but the competency of the management. The league set the parameters when they stated you had to name a squad of 25, that in itself is a stipulated resource for the clubs, with boundaries. To further suffocate and dilute that, in an age where clubs employ people in positions so the only task a manager virtually has is to pick the team, is detrimental to clubs’ identity.

Why is it when Wayne Rooney’s dropped, the League does not step in and say “hang on a minute, your best player’s on the bench, that’s not your best eleven.” The same rules apply, it’s just as stupid in this minuscule instance as it is in Blackpool’s. In fact Arsenal too made nine changes to their side when they faced Wigan two days after beating Chelsea, and finished with a 2-2 draw. Yet no punishment. Is it because there was one change fewer and they actually got a point?

The fans support the players representing their club, and the manager decides which 25 players after each window will have the opportunity to do just that. Given these initial restrictions, they can’t then go on and say which of these 25 players should play. I see what they mean by consistency in the picking, but if someone suddenly falls out of form, the manager should have the power to drop them, or any number of people for any reason – because they are the boss.

At the end of the day, the buck should stop with the gaffer. Holloway picked his team for that night which he thought would benefit the club in the longer term. That’s his prerogative, his team were still capable of battling Villa that night and by no means embarrassed or disgraced the actual Premier League with their performance, and the other members of the squad retained some much needed rest for the busy schedule ahead, if anything that’s good management. The chiefs at the Premier League should really think sometimes about which interests they’re acting in the name of.

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  • phil

    I basically agree but you let yourself down with some very poor grammar, especially towards the end.

    I think team selections should be monitored because relegation issues, among others, can be determined by a team at the bottom getting a point against a top team, if the top team is resting players for a Champions League game, say. The competition needs to be fair. But the rules need to applied consistently to all clubs and they need defining. How many changes is too many? What if the team has a lot of injured or sick players? What if the team has 4 games in 12 days? Rules B.13 and E.20 are too vague and are applied randomly, though usually to clubs with very little clout, so not THAT randomly!

  • Alex

    Thank you, I finished in a rush and write this very message from my phone! I’ll correct the errors when I get home.

  • Chris

    Don’t worry Alex – I’ll go through it and try to catch and correct any glitches.

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