Farce of McDonald Mariga’s work permit laid bare

It has come to light that McDonald Mariga has been granted a UK work permit afterall. In an effort to get the permit granted, the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga claims to have held talks with “Gordon Brown’s office, the Africa Office, office of Culture and Sports, the Home office, the FA president Lord Treisman and to Mariga himself.”

All this paid off, but only after the 5pm transfer deadline had passed. Maliga is now free to join a Premier League club in the next transfer window. Or he would be if Inter Milan hadn’t taken advantage of this mess of English bureaucracy to nip in and sign him on a four year contract.

There were several comments on Blue Days from Kenyan football fans looking forward to seeing their first player in the Premier League, and this seems to have been a view echoed across Kenya. The deal had been agreed with Parma and the player by the end of last week, but everyone had to wait until Monday for the work permit hearing. Because the deadline was also Monday, and at 5pm, there just wasn’t the time for this farce to be sorted out.

Allied to the fact that Mariga could have been just what City needed to pep up a flagging central midfield, as shown by Gareth Barry’s display against Portsmouth, and this is extremely frustrating news.

With Vieira not fit, Ireland not trusted in a defensive midfield role, and Kompany unable to replicate his form of last season in that position, it looks like Mancini will be short of alternatives to the Barry and de Jong pairing. It was clearly a concern for the Italian as we sought to revive the Gago deal, but again the 5pm deadline got in the way.

The January transfer window was first introduced in 2003 as an attempt by Uefa to get English football to fall into line with the continental system. It was much criticised at the time, as English football had been getting along just fine without this European concept.

Fears that big clubs would stockpile talented squad players for fear of injuries to leading players have been born out. Likewise the concern that players not getting any match time would drain wages rather than be loaned out or moved on has also come to pass.

As the years have ticked by, the transfer window has come to be accepted, but it’s needlessly restrictive nature has caught City out this time. Let’s just hope it doesn’t cost us a Champions League place in the same way that it’s cost Kenyan football fans the chance to see one of their own in the Premier League.

Transfer assessment: Johnson signs but Mariga and Gago miss out
Media watch: Guardian’s Daniel Taylor targets Garry Cook again


  1. Excellent article, thanks

  2. It is Cook and Marwood’s fault. Knowing that a work permit would be required, and also knowing that requests can go to appeal, the process should have started when the window opened, not when it is approaching closure. Mr Cook, for all your top level business experience etc. etc. it is called “contingency planning”.

    • I think Mancini was still assessing the squad at the start of the window, and then Flamini and Gago were above Mariga in the list of targets. It appears we only turned to him after these deals fell flat, but I’d agree we should have tried to push it through earlier last week. Letting the work permit application go down to deadline day was a big mistake, and one that I would think comes under Marwood’s remit.

  3. The ineptitude of senior management at MCFC knows on limits. Yesterday was just farce until you remember this is dear old City. But that should no longer be the case under this illustrative ownership and I anticipate changes at the end of the season

  4. That is what you get when you wait to do things last minute. Mariga ‘s aggressive and strong physical playing style is exactly what Manchester city needed.What a loss!

  5. It’s harsh to blame it on the City management when you have a spurs diector and a Utd Fan (I believe David Platt was also on the board???) deciding whether a footballer could sign for another club.
    I seriously think City should take legal action against the board…

    • According to today’s Guardian, David Pleat (well connected with our Champions League rivals Spurs), David Platt (supposedly a friend of Mancini!) and Dave Bassett were on the panel that turned down the work permit application. They don’t need to explain the decision apparently. I don’t know how these people get appointed to decide on work permits. As I said yesterday, a farce!

  6. The window is a month long, why were ven trying to sign anyone on the last day. So many clubs do it and Blackburn missed out on Dindane because they too ran out of time. It just astonishes me how badly run football clubs are. If you need a player then surely better to have him for the whole of Jan rather than not. Also very sad that we didn’t get a left back. Garrido is way out of his depth and we are left hoping for a dramatic improvement in Brdge’s form or we are going to look very weak at the back down that flank. Barry looks way out of sorts too, nowhere near as good as the sycophantic UK media make out.

  7. Pete – I thought Bridge had a decent start to this campaign but did start to lose his way… I wouldn’t be surprised if he knew about the affair and it affected his form
    Maybe we’ll use LEscott there instead when he comes back…
    But I agree, Garrido’s positional sense is a s bad as Danny Mills’s… though he does have a decent recovery tackle…

    Yes we left it late but it would have gone through had the corruption of the panel not interferred.

    I think some people are using this to have a pop at Cook…

    • I think Marwood would be the person responsible for the work permit application rather than Cook – maybe it was his lack of experience. I’ll wager it won’t happen again!

      With regard to Bridge, I’m really looking forward to seeing how he and Lescott play under Mancini. I think we could be pleasantly surprised.

  8. Blue days…
    I’m looking forward to seeing if Toure can improve to – I thought Lescott was looking the better CB before ACN and the injury.
    LEscott isn’t supposed to be back until Feb 25th according to the Physioroom website

  9. City this was a big one ,it may seem dismal but for sure this will haunt you for a long time! This was a special breed specially created for a particular assignment.

    A super talent ! watch out Mariga in the Champions League.

    O’pe lesson well learnt.

  10. As I understand it the appeal was rejected as Kenya are outside the top 70, can’t really blame Pleat for that much as I’d like to.

    Absolutely agreed though about the last minute being a ridiculous time to do these things.

    • Kenya are outside the top 70, however exceptions can be made. Liberia were outside the top 70 when George Weah played for us, so that may have been one. The BBC also reported that Mariga’s work permit was granted after the 5pm deadline.

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