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Close That Window!

Close That Window!

The principle of transfer periods makes sense as they reduce the possibility to influence a competition that is still in progress. But I think the process needs refining in order to bring some order to a period that risks becoming a greater farce with each year.

Rafa Benitez says that discussions for Gareth Barry`s transfer have been going on since April. Arsenal are known to have been seeking to replace Flamini since early June at least. Fergie has been fluttering his eyelids at Berbatov for months. Many other transfers have become mired in a combination of brinkmanship and gamesmanship.

As things stand there is little encouragement for transfers to be completed swiftly and tidily. Some clubs, accepting that they have a player to sell, are holding out for the last possible date believing that`s when they will get the best price and some of those buying are waiting until the last possible date believing that`s when they will get the best price! To adapt Parkinson`s Law - Transfers expand so as to fill the time available for their completion.

Clubs all over Europe are only too prepared to leak stories to the press in the expectation that a sustained drip feed of posturing and teasing will encourage players they are interested in to disturb a previously stable relationship with their club. The purpose of this is to create a more receptive atmosphere for a bid that would probably fail with a straightforward approach to the club. It is only when there is enough time to play with that resistance can gradually be worn down.

Two seasons ago every man and his dog knew that Cole was going to go to Chelsea. They also knew that Gallas wanted to come to Arsenal. Chelsea refused to do the deal they knew would have to happen until the last possible moment believing that it would disrupt Arsenal more than it would them. Much the same situation was repeated the following season in not permitting Diarra to join us until midnight on deadline day.

There should be little reason why transfers need take more than a month to conclude. Effectively the summer transfer period extends from the end of a season to the 31st August. This is far too long and promotes the sort of prevarication that drags uncertainty past the start of the season. It encourages teams to seek to disrupt opponents by creating and perpetuating doubt about one of their key players. If Levy has genuinely told United that Berbatov is not for sale under any circumstances then Uniteds failure to make it clear they are no longer pursuing the player allows this uncertainty to ferment. It breeds the sort of silly, tedious hawking of players like Arshavin for much of the summer until the 'use by date` looms large and prices are cut to shift goods that were absurdly overpriced in the first place.

It`s time to put an end to this transfer debacle. The window should close no later than 31st July - preferably even a week or 2 earlier. All squads will then be finalised before pre-season has been underway for too long. All incentive to undermine another team`s preparation ends and supporters can finish agonising over who`s staying and who`s joining. Players will know long before the season gets underway that they will spend at least the first half of the season at the club and can knuckle down to pre-season training with greater certainty and hopefully some commitment.

This still gives up to 2 months to complete transfer activity. In reality, as clubs will have identified areas to strengthen long before the season ends most of the process of identification and preparation would be underway long before the window opens. The shorter the time available the faster serious negotiations will commence and conclude. And that has to be preferable to this perennially extended game of musical chairs.

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Date:Sunday August 17 2008
Time: 9:21AM


Your suggestion makes far too much sense for the powers that be to go for it
17/08/2008 10:20:00
Shorter transfer window? Fine by me, even if it is only to alleviate the tedium of these tiresome, ego driven sagas.
Little Dutch
17/08/2008 12:04:00
Yeah makes sense to me - just like Passenal said, it wouldn't make as much sense to the governing bodies would it? I don't know why the window shuts after the kick-off of the season, but I'm just wondering if it was meant to let clubs make some last-minute transfers after they saw the team play in the competitive games. You know in case things went wrong or injuries happened, etc.? But yeah I'm all for a shorter window than this. To be realistic though, we don't only see these sagas in summer, but throughout the season proper really. A shorter window might also mean that clubs keep unsettling players during the playing season, which is worse. e.g. Real don't look at the calendar to mouth off to the media about their transfer targets, and we don't want to see more of those.
Lou the Gunneress
17/08/2008 13:07:00
I think that you should not be able to speak to any clubs or players outside the transfer window, I also think the transfer window should be open for an hour the day before the season starts. The transfer window should be an all ticket event at the millenium dome, clubs could have stalls for their players!! I'd buy a ticket to that!!
17/08/2008 13:17:00
No one is going to buy a player to just cover short term injuries and longer term injuries can happen at any time - why make a special provision for those that happen in one particular month of the year? Clubs looking to unsettle players starts early anyway. Juventus have already claimed that RvP is a target for next summer. But it does mean that they would have to get the business done quickly the shorter the window is made. They'll have to put up or shut up in other words.
17/08/2008 13:19:00
The window closes on August 31st with European competition in mind as the proper tournaments begin in September, plus a lot of continental leagues begin later than we do in England.
Little Dutch
17/08/2008 13:44:00
I think the local associations set the transfer window dates so the FA can decide that transfers in have to be completed by the end of July which doesn't prevent clubs selling to other European clubs I suppose. Most of the European leagues get underway no later than the end of August so a cut off one month before the season starts should still be viable. As Passenal says there is no chance of anyone taking the idea forward so the farce will continue but it seems a very simple straightforward way of bringing some commonsense into the process.
17/08/2008 14:02:00
Then is the 31st Aug deadline entirely arbitrary? That's what remains a mystery, why 31st Aug? What I'm say is that regardless of the length of the window, to address the issue of these sagas, what the authorities also need to act on is the breaking of rules, e.g. clubs approaching players under contract before asking for permission from their clubs. That RvP thing, the Hleb ice-cream thing, the Ronaldo thing, whether those clubs contact the players directly or use the press to unsettle players. THAT is the root of the problem, the length of the window is secondary to that. If the governing bodies have the balls to enforce the rules, the window is just a period to do the actual paperwork of transfers.
Lou the Gunneress
17/08/2008 14:05:00
Great article Amos, but like stated above the powers that be don't take on board anything that make sense. All this unsettling of players and clubs does nothing for the game whatsoever, it just make for good media stories, better money for the agents, and worry for the fans. Yes, it would be better if the Transfer window closed before the start of the EPL, or move the start of the EPL to be in line with the start of the other European Leagues.
17/08/2008 14:13:00
According to the FIFA statutes the dates for the 2 registration periods in each year are set by the local associations. Article 6.2 states "The fi rst registration period shall begin after the completion of the season and shall normally end before the new season starts."
17/08/2008 14:20:00
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