The Transfer Deadline closed with a whimper at 11pm last night and was probably the biggest anti-climax since Liverpool failed to win last season’s Premier League. Much to the disappointment of Sky Sports News, who did their very best to make something out of nothing, there were no wild scenes at training grounds, no Torres-style departures, Robinho-like arrivals, not even an driver-seat interview from ‘arry as he left QPR’s training HQ.
Although one or two deals were done, what caught my eye was Newcastle’s decision to allow five players go on loan to Rangers. Haris Vuckic, Kevin Mbabu, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana and Remie Streete could all line out for the Gers this weekend as they face Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup. While the Glasgow club have not broken any rules with these loan deals, one has to question the fairness of allowing one club (Newcastle) loan so many players to another (Rangers).
The reason for this arrangement is simple. Newcastle owner Mike Ashley now has a sizable share in Rangers, having kept the club financially stable recently, and hence can sanction these loan deals quite easily.
Watford enjoyed a similar arrangement a couple of seasons ago, with the Hornets (then managed by Gianfranco Zola), loaning no less than nine players from Italian side Udinese. The club almost won promotion to the Premier League thanks to these loan deals, which were made possible by owner Gino Pozzo, who negotiated this arrangement with his father’s club Udinese.
The issue of dual ownership is something that continues to cause debate. While Rangers fans will probably be delighted with these new arrivals, I’m sure Hibs fans will have something else to say. The Edinburgh club will surely find it harder to finish ahead of their Glasgow rivals in what has become a race for second in the Scottish Championship.
The behaviour of Rangers and previously Watford does call into question the entire concept of the ‘loan’. Maybe it is something the FA, SFA, UEFA and even FIFA need to review. I don’t think it’s intended purpose was what we saw last night.