Pool fined over ‘weak’ team

DJ Campbell, Blackpool's first choice striker, celebrates his goal against Aston Villa
DJ Campbell, Blackpool's first choice striker, celebrates his goal against Aston Villa
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Blackpool have been fined £25,000 by the Premier League for fielding an under-strength side against Aston Villa earlier this season.

Manager Ian Holloway controversially made 10 changes for the game at Villa Park on November 10, arguing he needed to utilise his squad during a three-game week.

Holloway was almost vindicated as his team were beaten 3-2 by an 89th-minute goal and he later threatened to resign if punished over the matter.

It remains to be seen whether he sticks to his word but he did later temper those remarks by saying he would only step down if chairman Karl Oyston agreed it was in the club’s best interest.

A statement from the club read: “Blackpool Football Club can confirm the Premier League board has found the club guilty of breaches of Rules B.13 and E.20 in relation to the team fielded by the club in its fixture against Aston Villa on November 10, 2010.

“As a result of this breach of rules Blackpool FC have been fined £25,000.

“In reaching a decision the [Premier League] board took into account the team fielded by Blackpool in its match against West Ham United on November 13, 2010 and in subsequent league matches.”

The statement added that the Premier League also took into account Holloway’s selection for this month’s FA Cup third-round defeat at League One Southampton.

Holloway made nine changes for that tie, saying that as his team had little chance of winning the cup the following week’s league game against Liverpool had to take priority.

Wolves were punished for fielding a below-strength last season but since then the Premier League have introduced a new regulation stipulating that teams must be selected from a 25-man squad.

Holloway felt that as he complied with that rule punishment could not be justified, but the Premier League have viewed this to be an extreme case.

The statement added: “The board was also mindful of the fact that as recently as June 10, 2010, following the introduction of the league’s new homegrown player and squad rules, the clubs considered but ruled out removing Rule E.20 and the board is therefore committed to applying it in such extreme cases.”

Meanwhile, Oyston has dismissed revelations that Holloway would profit financially if captain Charlie Adam was sold as “insignificant”.

Holloway has admitted he will receive a percentage of any fee received for the Scotland playmaker but denied that is why he and the club are holding out for a higher price for the 25-year-old.

Adam, who has handed in a transfer request, has been the subject of bids from Liverpool, Aston Villa and Birmingham this month.

Liverpool are reported to have offered the most at £4million but all have been rejected by Holloway as derisory for a player with 18 months remaining on his contract.

Holloway has said that any money he receives will compare little to the bonus he would be entitled to if he keeps his team in the top flight - and for that Adam is vital.

Oyston said: “This is insubstantial and insignificant and shouldn’t be focused upon.”

The arrangement has raised questions about a possible conflict of interest but it is nothing new and nor does it contravene any regulations.

A Premier League spokesman said: “It is up to employers and employees to work out what their contracts are.

“Provided they are within the laws of the land, our rules and the Football Association’s rules, there is no problem.”

Adam joined the then Championship Seasiders for £500,000 from Rangers in August 2009 and was the on-field inspiration for their unlikely charge to promotion.

His continued good form this term has won him many new admirers but Oyston would not discuss whether there might be any more developments before Monday’s transfer deadline.

“There has been enough said already so I am not prepared to comment any further,” he said.

One player joining Blackpool is Morocco left-back Salaheddine Sbai .

The 25-year-old has signed until the end of the season, with the option of a further year, after being given a free transfer by French club Nimes.

Plymouth manager Peter Reid has also revealed Blackpool are hoping to sign the Pilgrims’ Zimbabwe full-back Onismor Bhasera on loan until the end of the season.

Reid said: “He’s up there at the moment. From what I’ve been told that should go through.”

Reflecting on the Premier League punishment, Oyston this evening told talkSPORT: “It is a squad game now. As a Premier League rule we have to nominate 25 players ahead of the season and that is what we have done.

“If the Premier League think those players aren’t good enough to appear on our behalf then maybe they should tell us that as we nominate them and maybe they should pick our team for us, I’m not sure.”

Oyston played down the prospect of Holloway leaving Bloomfield Road in the light of the fine, saying he would do “everything in my power” to retain his services.

“The manager has got absolute total control over which players he picks at Blackpool and I support every decision he makes, so I have no issue with Ian and I think for him to consider resigning when he’s done so magnificently well since he was appointed is something that I certainly wouldn’t preside over,” he said.

“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure Ian stays at Blackpool for as long as I can keep him there.

“I don’t think we should have been fined and we will reveal our position and possibly appeal against it. I think it’s unjust and so does Ian.”