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    Temporary career transition: a case study of the loan transfer process and experience in the English professional football environment

    Smith, Luci (2023) Temporary career transition: a case study of the loan transfer process and experience in the English professional football environment. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    The current PhD explores loan transfers in English professional football as a temporary transition. In sport, career termination has initially been prioritised, with wider transitions gaining greater attention over time (see: Ivarsson et al., 2018; Taylor and Ogilvie, 1994). However, little attention has been given to supporting and preparing individuals for permanent and temporary transfers in football. This is particularly important to explore given the introduction, yet lack of evaluation, of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) in 2012, which intended to increase holistic development and home grown talent development in England (Horrocks et al., 2016). To address this research gap, this thesis adopts a qualitative case study, drawing on interviews and document analysis, to gain in-depth insight to the experiences of an elite, high quality sample of players and staff across a range of Premier League and Championship clubs with regards to the loan process. The objectives of the research were to: a) explore the role of the Loan Managers (LMs) and their responsibilities in supporting loan players and processes; b) understand the perspectives of wider club staff, LMs and players to explore the loan process as a novel temporary transition; and c) develop recommendations regarding the LM role and broader loans process for individuals, clubs and policy-makers. There were a range of significant insights and novel contributions when addressing the objectives, including the lack of clarity for LMs and their day to day responsibilities. Similarly, consideration of wider perspectives allowed understanding of multi-disciplinary team (MDT) involvement as well as wider support and decision-making processes surrounding loan processes. Additionally, the current research recommends that professional football clubs ensure that a support structure is provided for LMs, whereby National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and organisations (e.g. Football Association; FA, English Premier League; EPL) could provide more formal support networks across clubs and leagues to ensure that sharing of best practice is in place. This may also help clubs and wider organisations place greater value on the loan transfer process, especially in line with the EPPP’s prioritisation of holistic development of homegrown talent, along with continued developments implemented by Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA, 2022) regarding loan regulations.

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