Blog: Holloway naive in Bosman ruling rant

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has become notorious for his entertaining press conferences and his fearless and critical approach to airing his opinion on how the game can be improved by the authorities. Martin Shillito explains why his latest tirade on the Bosman ruling, provoked by Wayne Rooney’s refusal to sign a new contract at Manchester United, illuminated his lack of understanding on the issue.

Ian Holloway’s press conference on Thursday, as ever, was highly interesting and entertaining to listen to, but it also presented the Blackpool boss as somewhat naive and ill-informed on the origins of the Bosman ruling. Holloway continually seemed to insinuate that the “people who are running football”, and by that he can only have meant FIFA or UEFA, were to blame for the Bosman rule, and he explicitly stated that “they [FIFA or UEFA] have the power to change this [the rule] straightaway.”

Yet this surely cannot be the case when the ruling was passed in the European Court of Justice. It is EU law not a UEFA or FIFA law. When Jean-Marc Bosman’s contract with his club, RFC Liege, expired, and he decided to challenge his employers after they refused to let him move to French club Dunkerque without the transfer fee they had requested, he took the matter to the European courts.

That was in 1990, but the law was not passed until 1995. It was complex then, and it remains so almost 15 years since the little-known Belgian player unwittingly helped change the football world in what has turned out to be an unthinkably vast and dramatic fashion.

Since the Bosman ruling, clubs have been able to field a team full of foreign players, players’ salaries have rocketed as they have become increasingly powerful, agents have been allowed to cash in thanks to the influence of players, and fans have had to devote increasing amounts of their monthly wages to watch their team play. The effects of the ruling have sculpted the modern game the way it is today and a lot of the game’s problems and the b

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