There's nothing more fun than sitting down on a rainy Friday afternoon with a hot cup of coffee and the Premier League Handbook. Well, ok, there's loads of things more fun, but after watching the Twitter this morning, it seemed evident that few really understand the league's rules on loans.
How many players can a club bring in on loan in one season?
Does it matter if the player is brought in from a lower division in England?
No. For instance, the fact that Holt joined Villa from Championship side Wigan makes no difference. He counts as one of the two permitted by the rules.
What if the loan is less than a season long?
Looking at some articles, it appears there's a belief out there that there's a distinction made between season-long loans and mid-season loans. Not according to the 2013-2014 Handbook. So Villa can't combine Holt and Bertrand into one twelve-month loan and say that another slot is available.
What if the player comes on loan from a non-English club?
Ah, now we're talking. Remember the far-fetched notion that Paul Lambert was in for Barcelona starlet Jean Marie Dongou? While that rumor may not have come from a very credible source, at least it's possible. Players on loan from foreign clubs don't go against the total, so Villa can go nuts bringing in youngsters from around the world. Well, as long as they fall in line with the other 2,743 rules contained in the Handbook.
How can clubs be linked with further loans, then, if they've already got two players on loan from English clubs in their squads?
There are two more transfer spots available. If a club needs an emergency goalkeeper, they can bring one in on loan. But clubs can also bring in two more transfers if the moves can be made permanent. Bertrand can't; Chelsea have made it clear they want him back. And while I've seen nothing that specifies that the Holt move can't be made permanent, the way Wigan referred to him as a Wigan player, and both sides made references to his return in the summer, makes it fairly evident that this is not a move that has a possibility of turning permanent.
In other words, Joleon Lescott is not on his way to Aston Villa.