The best way to climb into Premier League for Championship clubs is canny use of loans market

The Weekend Dossier

Three years ago Ian Holloway dug out his contacts book, called in a few favours, and wheeled and dealed his way to taking Blackpool into the top flight for the first time in three decades. Now he is at it again, with Crystal Palace hoping to be the beneficiaries.

While the attention may have been on Queen's Park Rangers' trolley dash and Aston Villa's lack of activity amid the Premier League relegation battle, the January transfer window is equally significant for teams seeking to get into the top flight. Funds, though, are in shorter supply in the Championship and the smartest managers are often those who can work the loan market.

Holloway is the master at this. In January 2010 he loaned in DJ Campbell, Stephen Dobbie and Seamus Coleman. They joined Barry Bannan, who had arrived in the October. Fortified by this combination of seasoned experience and talented youth, Blackpool climbed the table, finishing fifth. They were then promoted through the play-offs, with Campbell adding three goals in the series to the eight he scored in the second half of the regular season. Coleman started all three play-off matches while Dobbie and Bannan had an impact off the bench. Thus Blackpool competed with, and beat, clubs with larger resources.

So it was no surprise when Holloway hit the phones as soon as the window opened, telling the media in his inimitable style: "I've lots of fishing nets going out to sea, but we are not ready to trawl them in yet." When the catch was landed he had hauled in three youngsters from Premier League clubs, players at the same stage of development as Coleman and Bannan were. Alex Nimely, of Manchester City, and Swansea's Ashley "Jazz" Richards are at Selhurst Park to the end of the season, Norwich's Jacob Butterfield is there initially for a month. As the clock ticked down Holloway cast his nets again in response to Palace's midweek defeat at Huddersfield, bringing in two experienced strikers, the evergreen Kevin Phillips and Dobbie – who had followed play-off promotion with Blackpool by repeating the feat at Swansea. In between, potentially crucially, he arranged for Wilfried Zaha to be loaned back by Manchester United for the rest of the season after the tyro's move to Old Trafford.

Holloway has been the most active user of the loan market in the Championship but he is by no means the only one. At Hull Steve Bruce has brought in four loanees, and would have made it five had Campbell been persuaded to join him on Humberside.

Even without Campbell, Hull, like Palace, look stronger, which shows the value of a manager with good connections and a persuasive tongue. Is this fair? The loan system certainly helps the well-connected (witness Peterborough United's continuing ability to attract Manchester United youngsters). In that respect it favours those managers who have been around a long time – though access to hard cash should not be underestimated as a factor; many loaning clubs will demand a fee, or for the bulk of a players' wages to be paid.

The clubs with real cash will, though, buy players, not rent them. Last year's key deals were permanent ones. Reading bought Jason Roberts, whose goals and experience helped them win the title. West Ham signed Nicky Maynard and Ricardo Vaz Te. Both scored in the play-off semi-final against Cardiff and Vaz Te's late Wembley goal won them promotion. Well-heeled Cardiff, incidentally, have not borrowed anyone this window, but they have paid for Fraizer Campbell from Sunderland.

Thus the loan system helps level the playing field for those clubs, like Blackpool in 2010, who are unable to commit to a permanent transfer. It is a risk-free deal in that the club is not committing to paying for a player long-term, but the flip side is that loanees are merely passing through. Can a manager rely upon them to provide the same level of commitment to a team as a permanent staffer? Having too many loanees risks disrupting the dressing-room, and long term it is harder to establish a pattern of play when a team is constantly bringing in loanees.

Coincidentally Palace today host a Charlton side whose only January activity was the arrival of Kevin Feely, a young Irish defender from Bohemians, on a permanent deal.Manager Chris Powell's lack of action can be partly explained by the fact Charlton are unlikely to go up or down this season and after three years straining to escape League One are happy to consolidate. Powell can experiment with his own staff, bed in plans for next season, and give his club's own youngsters a chance.

This is significant because what is notable is that with the prime exception of Matthew Upson's switch from Stoke to Brighton, most of the players dropping down from the Premier League are youngsters unable to get a match in the elite. As Holloway said of Nimely, "he's one of the ones that they tend to stack and rack at clubs like Manchester City".

This is the modern game. Big clubs stockpile players. Chelsea, for example, have 22 players on loan around the world including Josh McEachran (at Middlesbrough), Sam Hutchinson (Nottingham Forest) and Todd Kane (Blackburn).

Some of these youngsters will learn from their time out in the "real world", return to their parent clubs, prosper and make a career there, like Coleman has at Everton and Bannan, to an extent, at Villa. Others will be passed from loan to loan before eventually being released, at which point they will hope they have impressed someone, somewhere, enough to give them a second chance.

Thus perhaps the best-case scenario for players such as Richards, Nimely and Butterfield is that they will play such an important role in taking Palace up that Holloway, bolstered by an influx of Premier League cash, upgrades their loan into a permanent transfer – as he did with Campbell in 2010. In that respect they, like all loanees, are playing for themselves rather than the team, but if the team benefits, who cares?

Premier League: Loans to Championship

* Loans from January to end of season, except where stated

Barnsley Rory Delap (Stoke)

Birmingham City Rob Hall (West Ham, monthly), Ravel Morrison (West Ham, whole season), Jack Butland (Stoke – loaned back)

Blackburn Rovers Todd Kane (Chelsea, month)

Blackpool Reece Wabara (Manchester City), Nathan Delfouneso (Aston Villa, season)

Bolton Craig Dawson (West Bromwich, to 27 April), Jay Spearing (Liverpool, season), Benik Afobe (Arsenal, season), Steve De Ridder (Southampton, month)

Brighton Wayne Bridge (Man City, season), Matthew Upson (Stoke)

Burnley Joseph Mills (Reading, season)

Crystal Palace Alex Nimely (Man City), Jacob Butterfield (Norwich, month), Ashley Richards (Swansea), Wilfried Zaha (Man Utd – loan back)

Huddersfield James Vaughan (Norwich City, season)

Hull City David Stockdale (Fulham), Ahmed Elmohamady (Sunderland)

Ipswich Town Steven Henderson (West Ham)

Leeds United Ross Barkley (Everton, to 12 Feb)

Leicester City Michael Keane (Man Utd, extended to end of season)

Middlesbrough Josh McEachran (Chelsea, season)

Millwall Rob Hulse (QPR), Adam Smith (Tottenham, extended to end of season)

Nottingham Forest Sam Hutchinson (Chelsea, season), Billy Sharp (Southampton, season) , Daniel Ayala (Norwich, season), Gonzalo Jara (West Brom), Elliott Ward (Norwich)

Peterborough Davide Petrucci (Man Utd, month), Scott Wootton (Man U), Alex Pritchard (Tottenham)

Sheffield Wednesday Leroy Lita (Swansea), Jérémy Hélan(Man City, extended to end of season)

Watford Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea, season)

NONE Bristol City, Cardiff City, Charlton, Derby, Wolves

Five Asides

1. If Harry pulls this off, it will encourage more gambles

Loftus Road is a proper football ground, Harry Redknapp is great copy and Tony Fernandes appears to be genuine. Some of my friends are QPR fans. But I can't help thinking if they succeed with this wild gamble, and Aston Villa go down instead, it sets a terrible example.

2. The true cost of Chelsea's charitable gesture

Chelsea sent out a press release trumpeting the £71,000 raised for a trio of charities through an event this week featuring the first -team squad. All very laudable, but the club's £500,000 daily wage bill provides some perspective.

3. Put those outdated club shirts to good use

Don't need that Demba Ba Magpies shirt any more, or are you a Baggies fan not quite sure what to do with your Odemwingie-adorned jersey? Kits4Causes has a solution: add it to the 16,000 football shirts donated to under-privileged communities in 19 countries worldwide. "We're appealing to those supporters not to bury it in the bottom of a drawer for years, but to put it to greater good," says director Chris Grindley.

kits4causes.org

4. When National Service did not mean Croatia away

This season Gillingham have modelled their programme covers on historic editions to mark the centenary of changing the club's name from New Brompton. They also reproduce pages from each of the originals used. This week's Northampton Town match carried extracts from the teams' 1957 meeting. The Cobblers' pen-pics revealed two players had joined the club after being demobbed from National Service. Not for the first time the thought occurred that footballers (indeed, most of us) do not always appreciate how fortunate they (and we) are.

5. What price watching Torres in another European final?

Fed up with the cost of watching football? Tickets are on sale for the 2013 Uefa Women's Champions League final hosted at Stamford Bridge on Thursday 23 May, 7.30pm kick-off. Adults £10, under-18s and senior citizens £5. Torres may even be playing – that is the Sardinian ladies team, who face Arsenal in next month's quarter-finals, not Fernando.

chelseafc.com/uefawomensfinal

twitter.com/GlennMoore7

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all