WE HAVE had our fair share of loan signings at Chester City this season and they have mostly been successful as we try to achieve our aim of staying in the Football League.
There are pros and cons with the loan system and the trick is to make it work for you. Ideally, I only want to take players on loan I consider could be of long-term value to the club.
It is a good opportunity to have a close-quarters look at a player you have admired from a distance, but there is not much point taking him if you have no chance of clinching a permanent deal.
The only exception to the rule is taking a goalkeeper on loan. Usually this happens when you lose one of your own through injury or maybe a long suspension and everyone accepts this is just a temporary arrangement.
The loan system can work against you, of course. There is a danger that a player may have commitment issues if he believes he could be merely a stop-gap player, but is happy to be in the first team rather than languishing in the reserves at his parent club
This is why I believe it is important for everyone concerned to know that a permanent deal could be on the cards at the end of the loan or even at the end of the season when contracts expire.
Some clubs at our level have considered being a nursery for a neighbouring Premiership club - Crewe Alex seemed to have an arrangement with Liverpool at one time - and although some fans would probably prefer their club to be independent there could be some merit in the idea.
It could certainly benefit a promising young player to be closely linked with a top club, like Danny Murphy when he was at Gresty Road before moving to Anfield, and if there were financial incentives this would have to be considered as the big clubs get bigger and times get harder for the smaller clubs.
Our priority at Chester is to find young players, persuade them to join us, develop their talent and then make money by transferring them to one of the giants.
That is the way it has to be at clubs like Chester. Crewe have operated successfully this way for years and are a role model to the rest of us.