Norwich Cup Draw: Not Ideal For Raggett Extension

Another transfer window, another glut of stories, conjecture and second-guessing what might happen with Sean Raggett. It’s almost routine for Imps fans to be discussing the big defender now.

As thing stand, Sean has been on loan at City after securing a summer move to Championship side Norwich. He’s been going to Norfolk intermittently to join up with their squad and be involved in training which is obviously of benefit to the player and his parent club. The rest of the time he’s formed a valuable partnership with Rob Dickie in our back line, also looking comfortable with Luke Waterfall whenever he’s played. Raggett is basically like Neal Eardley in that he’ll play, which of the other two players take the other spot is up for discussion.

Raggs has been excellent once again, scoring against Swindon to grab crucial points and marshalling the defence well. There has been a train of thought that suggests maybe, just maybe he isn’t quite as commanding as last season. I’ve spoken a couple of times of fans understanding what the player wants with regards to going back to Norwich in January. He’s earned his dream move but as things stand, he’s still in the same place as last season. On the flip side he’s getting regular football at a good level.

Much of the argument is pointless as the decision is with Norwich. The rumours coming out of the internet were that Norwich would take him back in January, play him in their FA Cup third round tie and then allow him to re-join City until the end of the season. After all, FIFA rules state a player can’t play for more than two clubs in a season so an FA Cup appearance would only allow him to re-join Lincoln. This theory seemed to be enforced by them not allowing him to play in the cup against Wimbledon.

The draw for the FA Cup took place last night and instead of the minnows or a fellow championship side, Norwich drew Chelsea. Suddenly the cup tie is a big game for them, one they can use to test themselves against big opposition and find out where they are as a club. they aspire to be back in the top-flight and this is a great chance to see if they’re up to it, especially as bigger clubs field weaker sides even in the FA Cup. It now looks far less likely that they’ll risk throwing the untested rookie Raggett onto the pitch, after all this isn’t Mansfield or Forest Green they’re playing.

Immediately Imps fans started believing this was a good thing for us. If he’s not likely to play for them in the FA Cup surely it is odds on he’ll return to us? Even their fans don’t believe he’d be getting near their first team and so surely it is sensible to give him the rest of the season at Sincil Bank and have him at Carrow Road from May onwards. Norwich are 16th in the Championship and looking unlikely to trouble the top six, so Raggett can have his Championship football next season. If they’d been in the top seven then maybe he would be better going back in January, if they got promoted he might be too far behind for top-flight football, but if they’re staying put what damage can six more months away do?

These are sound points, but a failure to play in the FA Cup for them opens up another possibility that many may overlook. If he goes back there and does not play, he can move to another club and play for them without breaking any rules. We’re all comfortable with the fact a player can only PLAY for two clubs in a season, we all laughed at Scunthorpe when they tried to palm Margetts off to Crewe only to have the transfer made null and void. However, the rules aren’t as straightforward as that.

According to the current FIFA Regulations for the Status and Transfer of Players, Chapter III: Registration of Players, Article 5.3 (I love a good rule book me): Players may be registered for a maximum of three clubs during the period from 1 July until 30 June of the following year. During this period, the player is only eligible to play in Official Matches for two clubs. Basically if Raggett goes back to Norwich and they think he’d benefit from six months in League One then they can farm him back out to Southend, Gillingham or whoever and suffer no consequences.

This is all conjecture, Norwich may well believe that the best place for Raggs is here at Lincoln and to try him in League One for six months where a first team place isn’t guaranteed is counter-productive. However, those under the impression a big draw for Norwich is a good thing for us are labouring under a misapprehension. Football has a cruel way of biting you on the arse, what price Scunthorpe getting one over on us using the loan rules, just as we did a year ago? They might just think a new centre half is what they need to aid their push towards the Championship and approach Norwich with a proposition. We know from the whole Margetts saga that their chairman has a ‘thing’ with us and likes to get one over, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

All photos courtesy of Graham Burrell and reproduced with permission from Lincoln City

Also, much of this depends on Raggs doesn’t it? Maybe he’d prefer to be in Norwich’s stiff for six months, learning their method and getting to know their lads. Maybe he wants to see Lincoln promoted and would be happy with the current set up too. My only hope is that whatever happens it is what the player wants, not just what Norwich want. He’s earned the right to walk away in January with his head held high, he owes Lincoln City nothing and we owe him an awful lot. If he ends up at Norwich or even in League One then he’ll be there with my blessing because he’s been a great campaigner for this club.

That said, perhaps to earn true ‘legend’ status after just two seasons, one might want to have back to back promotions on his CV alongside that late Burnley winner. Just a thought.