Date: 20th January 2009 at 8:57pm
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As banks run begging to the Government for funds, and with the possibility of some football clubs going bust soon, who benefits from the January window ?

There have been further murmurings of discontent from some high profile UK football managers regarding the January Transfer Window. Messrs Southgate, Allardyce & Bruce have recently made comments similar to those of Steve Coppell and Gary Megson last season, criticising the added pressure it puts managers and players under.

The transfer windows were introduced by FIFA in 2002, but EU employment law meant that UEFA had to negotiate how they could be operated in our part of the world. 2 windows were introduced – to cater for the winter shutdowns in Nordic countries and to have a longer period where movements of players could take place. Many would argue that the main driver behind the concept was to maximise the amount of money flowing through the game, with agents able to market their players ahead of anticipated stampedes by clubs to freshen their squads.

However the effect of the January window on clubs outwith the wealthy few seems to have more negatives than positives.

Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb said this – ‘My view is that the January transfer window is not in the best interests of football, a belief that I know is shared by manager Gareth Southgate. We would both prefer that is wasn’t part of the game.The window unsettles otherwise happy players, puts undue pressure on chairmen, managers and chief executives and raises unrealistic expectancy among supporters. As far as I can see, the only beneficiaries are the media, who spend hour after hour, day after day writing and talking about pure speculation that rarely amounts to anything, and agents, who see January as an opportunity to move their clients and make their money.’

Wigan manager Steve Bruce said – ‘The transfer window just benefits the big clubs because they can pay more and come and try to prey on clubs like us. The last thing I want to be doing is dismantling the squad so we have just to say ‘no, they are not for sale no matter what you offer’. We are halfway through the Premier League season and even though we are riding high (in seventh) if you lose your big players your dressing room loses that edge. The longer it (the transfer window) goes, especially towards the end, you have to be strong and say no and the players have to understand that if it comes to the end and you can’t get a replacement they have to stay here.

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce said – ‘I’ve said on many occasions this is one of the most destructive times of the season. I keep telling the authorities that we should get rid of it, but they don’t listen to me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s unproductive, creates mayhem, inflation and unrest. I think they should seriously think about the position managers are left to try and deal with. In particular, there’s the upset and unrest it causes football clubs and players. The system is flawed.’

At Hearts, it is quite possible that Messrs Berra, Driver, Kingston and Aguiar are not fully focused on doing their best for the club just now, when they are reading or hearing media stories of big clubs allegedly preparing bids for them – and we can only imagine what their agents are telling them.

Personally, I think the market for football players should either be operated completely unhindered (with no windows at all), or else should be restricted to a single window within the official `close season` of the buying club. There may be logistical and legal reasons why a single window would not work – so the only feasible alternative might be to scrap the concept altogether and go back to the way things used to be.

Of course, changing transfer rules that apply in the UK would have to be done at UEFA or FIFA level – but since the economic recession is global, there is bound to be ‘fallout’ as players are offered reduced wages by most clubs in the coming year.

Either way, it`s likely that the “suits”, lawyers and agents in the modern football industry will continue to be the winners.

Your thoughts, please?.


5 Replies to “January Transfer Window – good or bad ?”

  • I would actually agree with a lot of those managers’ comments – I’m really not sure that this window has added much to the game at all. I take the point that there are those who say that it makes for a much more interesting January than you had previously, but when you were allowed to sign players at any time of the year I always felt that things were slightly less predictable – there was always the possibility that a club could pull off a masterstroke of a signing just when they needed it to shake things up. Personally I’d like to see those days returning…

  • Agree, with all that’s been said by the managers and executives in the story and by yourself Mr H. Scrap the Window!

  • Hmmm… not sure. I think I’d be more inclined to go for the close season window rather than scrap the concept completely, however that would cause problems with restrictive movement under EU employment law. I like the idea that, as a fan, *this* is your squad, and *this* is your team… and nobody can pull the rug from under you except at pre-ordained times. Although saying that, I thought we were ‘safe’ last season and then we sold our top scorer outside of the UK transfer window… which basically left poor Frail with a near impossible task. I don’t think the window idea has been given enough time to really work – 6 or 7 years isn’t long enough to see how it pans out. One to watch rather than propose wholesale change right now IMO.

  • If specific transfer windows were removed I wouldn’t be surprised if these same managers started complaining that there was no stability for any of the season and their best players could be sold immediately from underneath them etc. The EU labour law point is a good one and I suspect that the eurocrats would not look too kindly on an abandonment of the January window. Personally I don’t really mind it – assuming of course that half the team aren’t sold within the next week or so …..!

  • Mind you, inm – if the “right” half of the team were sold in the coming week, some of us might be quite pleased !!

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