28 January 2011
|Blackpool manager Ian Holloway. (Credit Image: © Action Images/ZUMApress.com)|
I have to admit right off the top that my feelings on Premier League Rule E.20 changed from last season to this. Last year, with no squad caps, I felt the suspended fine Wolverhampton Wanderers got was about right. I know it sounds stupid, but at the time, I felt with no caps in place, one had to justify making so many changes. With no limits to how many players you could have registered, you should have already known who your best players were to play. If you strayed too far from that, the Premier League had a right to slap you in line.
The problem was, that wasn't being applied on a consistent basis.
- On consecutive weeks in 2007, Liverpool fielded weakened sides in losses to Portsmouth and Fulham. The Premier League did nothing.
- On the last day of the season in 2009, Manchester United, in preparation for their UEFA Champions League match with FC Barcelona, fielded a weakened side against Hull City. While Manchester Untied won, the Premier League did nothing.
- On December 15, 2009, Wolverhampton Wanderers fielded a weakened team against Manchester United. The Premier League decided to take action and give them a suspended 25,000 pound fine.
Ian Holloway was right in all the post-match interviews in saying he didn't feel he needed to justify his squad choices that day. They were registered players, approved by the Premier League when the squads were due, and they did not damn the Premier League in how they played. Most teams in the league could take a lesson in how Blackpool have played this season. They've played balls to the wall, without fear of losing. Every one of their performance, save their September 19th defeat at Chelsea, has been a breath of fresh air.
Everything about this fine Blackpool have received just reeks of political BS within the Premier League. Last season Wolverhampton Wanderers did the same thing, and their fine was suspended. Blackpool's punishment was worse. Now had the Premier League said this fine was because of Holloway's comments to the media once the game was over, I could understand that. However, to say it was because of the squad they fielded is unacceptable to me.
With the new squad restrictions in place, the Premier League needs to eliminate rule E.20 from their laws in time for next season, apologize to both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackpool FC, and rush Blackpool's obvious appeal through the system and over turn it. At least overturning the fine would make a good first step.