Pool Fine Not Fine by Holloway

Blackpool have been fined £25,000 yesterday, January 27th, by the FA for fielding a weakened team in their Premier League match against Aston Villa on November 10th. And this decision from English football’s governing body is an absolute joke.

The Pool have been found guilty in breach of Premier League rules B.13 and E.20, which states that “each participating club shall field a full-strength team”. The Seasiders only lost the game against Villa by a scoreline of 3-2, with James Collins only scoring the winner in the 89th minute. This game was only four days after their 2-2 draw at home to Everton and manager Ian Holloway made ten changes to his side that played in that game.

Holloway was furious with the threat of being fined by the FA, and in an interview in the wake of this [see video below] he threatened to resign from his post. In following interviews he also stated that he didn’t offer those threats in the heat of the moment and was serious.

And it would be an absolute shame if Holloway was to leave his post, as he is a beloved character in the world of football, and not to mention a very good manager. He makes some great points regarding to the ridiculous sanctions that the FA impose.

Who is to decide what eleven players on Blackpool’s books are better than any other set of eleven? I mean of course, don’t get me wrong, the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s of this world are more talented and productive on the field than the likes of Lucas and Reo-Coker. But everyone can have their on and off days, and especially in the same squad. What is even the point in having a 25 man squad if a lot of those players aren’t deemed good enough to play by the Premier League officials, Holloway also wonders. And he speaks a lot of sense. “If I pick a different team, I’ve got every right to do what I like”. As it turned out, this so-called ‘weakened’ team ended up playing very well, and deserved at least a draw in the Blackpool manager’s opinion.

‘Ollie’ also argues that if he played his players 4 times in the space of twelve days, they’d end up getting injured. By the letter of the law, teams must give all they’ve got to offer against even the strongest in the league, Manchester United and Chelsea etc. Most teams that play these with their ‘strongest’ eleven still end up with 0 points from the game. For the teams next game, these players may well be too fatigued to perform at their best, and could lose another match a few days later to a side generally considered not as strong, simply due to exhaustion. So from those two games zero points could, in good likelihood, be gained.

Teams could do their best by playing the fixture list to their advantage. This means thinking about your team selections logically – and not having players playing 4 matches in the space of twelve days. For instance if the same team as used for the example above, played United or Chelsea with a ‘weakened’ team, they could still easily end up with 0 points from this game. But the difference now is, they have fit and fresh players to play their next match thus giving their club a higher chance of earning points. For arguments sake the win their second match – a few days after playing a midweek game – over the course of these two particular games they earn three points. Obviously it’s no guarantee of winning, but it still gives them a much better chance of doing so. So by doing this, the team is doing its utmost in order to gain the most amount of points possible to them.

Ian Holloway

When the fixture list is congested as much as it is at times, widespread changes are occasionally needed. Whether that be 3 changes or 11, it should be at the manager’s discretion because at the end of the day he knows his team best.

It is simply intelligent management. A greater chance at a potential three points are three more than zero and this proves that the laws set out by the Premier League are fundamentally flawed. The Bloomfield Road boss also pointed out that he wanted to give younger players and those with less game time this season a run-out. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, he wants his players to develop when the opportunity presents itself.

Last season a similar thing happened as Wolves boss Mick McCarthy made huge changes to his team to play Manchester United. He was also fined £25,000 for making ten switches before the game which his side lost 3-0. It would be very interesting and revealing if a team were to make ten changes or so and end up winning the match. Or what if the likes of the title contenders pulled this charade and made wholesale changes to their team to play against relegation favorites? Could or would the FA punish them in such cases?

Karl Oyston, the acting CEO of Blackpool has stated that he will reject a resignation from Ian Holloway should he choose to do so, saying “he has been a breath of fresh air, not just for Blackpool, but for the whole Premier League,” and the truly lovable and eccentric character really has been, with interviews often filled with laughter and levity. Should he quit as Blackpool manager it would be a real loss to not only Blackpool and all their fans, but the whole Premier League.


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