Premier League agree new transfer deadline dates
One of the biggest complaints from Premier League managers is about the disruption that the transfer window causes to their plans for the new season. Players are distracted with rumours about them changing clubs, sometimes generated just to unsettle players. Fans also suffer; you buy a shirt with your favourite player’s name on the back and then two weeks later, they have been sold.
For any changes to the transfer window to be approved a minimum of 14 clubs would have to agree. This was exactly the amount that did agree to the proposals. Burnley abstained from the vote and Manchester United, Manchester City, Watford, Swansea and Crystal Palace voted against the plan.
With the proposal being accepted, it means that the transfer window will close at 17:00 on the Thursday before the first game of the season. This will allow any transfer activity to take place before a potential first game of the season on the Friday night. Therefore, next season clubs will not be able to buy players after the 9th August 2018.
So, this is great news, right? Well yes and no! European leagues will still be able to buy and sell until the 31st August, meaning that Premier League clubs can still lose players after the 9th but will not be able to buy to replace them. This has led to fears that Champions League and Europa League rivals will have an unfair advantage and they may target Premier League clubs after the 9th of August deadline.
What do Players and Managers Think?
A vocal supporter of the changes is England striker Harry Kane, he believes that the change will help players concentrate on the team rather than transfer speculation. He said:
Me personally I think that would be good. I think when the season starts it would be good to just know everyone is where they are at. You get on with the season. At the minute, there is always players going here and there and there is a lot of talk for some players and maybe they should be concentrating on the season. Let’s see what happens in the future but in my opinion I think it would be good to end it when the season starts.– Harry Kane, Tottenham & England Footballer
Another high-profile name to add support for the changes is ex-Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. Ferguson was speaking at the annual UEFA Elite Coaches Forum and said he felt sympathy for bitter rivals Liverpool who have spent the summer rebuffing Barcelona’s advances for Philippe Coutinho.
The recommendation we look at is to close the window before the season starts, so everyone knows which players they’ve got and aren’t waiting to see what the first results are going to be. It’s disappointing because I’m sure that, in the case of Liverpool, they did a very good job in making Coutinho the player he is today. So, it’s a bit disappointing but you have to deal with it and the transfer window doesn’t help in that situation.– Sir Alex Ferguson, Former Manchester United Manager
One interesting aspect of the vote for change is the difference of opinion between the clubs and the managers. Both Manchester clubs’ managers were in favour of shortening the window but this is at odds with how the clubs voted. City sided with United in voting against the changes and at boardroom level they have expressed the fear that these new rules will give a competitive edge to their rivals.
Does it Go Far Enough?
One manager who doesn’t feel the changes go far enough is Arsène Wenger. Wenger, who has been manager at Arsenal since 1996, believes the January transfer window should be scrapped altogether. He believes that if we have just one window in the summer then players are more likely to be focused on playing for the team rather than trying to orchestrate moves away. He said:
I believe that we have to bring some decency. We all complain today that it has become too much a business, but we can do something about it. We have that responsibility in the game. You can’t have a player preparing for a vital football game and still be on the phone at 4 o’clock; ‘do I go or not?’ or ‘how much is it?’, ‘where do I go?’ The ideal situation would be to have a transfer period that is closed 48 hours before the first game of the championship and to close it completely until the season after.– Arsène Wenger, Arsenal Manager
Arsenal themselves have had to endure a very public wrangling from Manchester City for Arsenal forward Alexis Sánchez. City tested Arsenal’s resolve with a deadline day £50m bid for the 28-year-old Chilean who is out of contract at the end of the season and could well leave for free. Wenger believes it is worth taking the financial hit to get another season out of Sánchez.
It is very unlikely that the January window will be scrapped, even though historically players signed in the January market are less effective than players who are signed in the summer. In the 15 years that the winter window has existed, the amount spent in January has increased by 500%. The total spent in 2003 was £45.7m, whereas £218.5m was spent last January.
The interesting stat behind these figures is that the team that are crowned champions at the end of the season rarely spend much during January. When Manchester United won the league in 2003 they didn’t spend a penny in the January transfer window. This was also the case in 2006. The same was also true for Chelsea in 2009 and Manchester City in 2013. The team that spent the most in January and went on to win the league was Chelsea in 2014 with a £26.4m spend. The big figures are more likely to be spent by clubs desperate to avoid relegation rather than strengthening a title winning team.
Are Other Leagues Likely to Follow Suit?
In an ideal world they would but I doubt very much that this will happen. German, Spanish, and Italian clubs will understand that English clubs will be buying early and this gives them an opportunity to increase the transfer fee demanded as the 9th of August deadline approaches. They will also breathe a sigh of relief once the deadline passes, knowing their players are safe from the English teams.
The English Football League which oversees the lower divisions are said to be keen on following the Premier League’s example and shortening the window, but this will need a majority vote of their 72 members. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.