The transfer window fails to deliver

Since its introduction in 2003, the changes to the football transfer window have attracted major criticism from managers, agents, fans and media alike.

When watching the recent deadline day dealings on Sky Sports News, I couldn’t help but think that the new system truly has hit rock bottom and despite a reasonable last half hour of the English window, it really did fail to deliver.

The transfer of Robbie Keane on loan, from Tottenham to Celtic, until the end of the season was the high point in a month of predictable, boring and forgetful transfers.

F.I.F.A (football governing body) introduced the new system so that all leagues across the world did there transfer dealings in the same time periods in the calendar year, namely July 1st until August 31st and January 1st until January 31st.

But this has fallen flat on its face and is in need of a radical re-think!

Any ideas?

This isn’t one of my rants, as I think many of my readers will agree with the failing of the current system. This can be evidently backed up by the fact that it was the lowest January spend in the English game since the new system was implemented.

The graph below clearly shows how the window has peaked and begun to decline rapidly. Yes, this can be coupled with the current economic down-fall but surely this is coincidently as clubs are refusing to do business in a month that constitutes ‘panic-buying!’

Back this up with 70% of the transfer dealings in the English game coming in the form of loan transfers and many of the notable transfers coming in the form of a free transfer, now is the time to change this system before it is too late.

The window has become confusing with differing leagues asking and having granted different closing times, which defeats part of the goal of its inception. England was 5pm on the 1st February yet Scotland had asked for a midnight extension.

Bizarre!

The major signings, if they can be called that involved Sol Campbell and Patrick Viera, both aging footballers, who moved on free transfers, the aforementioned Robbie Keane’s loan move and Adam Johnsons’ predictable transfer from Middlesbrough.

Not exactly edge of the seat stuff is it?

Last January offered 7 transfers over the £10 million mark and I know several of those involved Manchester City but for this January to include no transfers above the mark, shows a switch in the climates of the game and a disliking of doing all your dealings in one calendar month.

With this backed up by the so-called big clubs in the English game avoided using this window, even Chelsea with several key players on Africa Cup of Nations duty. It is a month to gamble on a player, though gambling on many players is part of the make-up of football.

Whilst on the subject of transfers, Salvador Cabanas, the Paraguayan international striker, with whom Steve Bruce had discussed a possible move to Sunderland, five days before been shot in Mexico City late last month.

As I write, Cabanas is still in a critical yet stable condition and I wish him a speedy recovery, can he be fit for the up-coming world cup? Who knows!

So this transfer window debacle needs a resolution and it needs to be resolved sooner than later.

I have a possible remedy, it’s not set in stone but let me know your thoughts. It surely cannot be any worse than the current system:

  • All-year round transfer window adds excitement and loses the predictability currently in the sport.
  • All transfer fees to be disclosed allowing for debate, honesty and removing secrecy from the sport.
  • Full transfer information to be disclosed; contract length, agent fee’s etc
  • Increased fines/bans for trying to ‘tap’ a player up from another club (i.e. less of Harry Redknapp and his ‘triffic’ player quotes).
  • Set compensation for players under the age of 24 moving through ‘freedom of contract’. Clubs know what they will expect rather than a tribunal six months later.
  • Lower the maximum length of a contract to four years as players rarely run their contracts down.

Let me know your thoughts on the above and let us all hope that the diabolical system now in place is updated in the very near future.

Read more of Derek Gaffney’s work at his Sports Blog

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