Close the transfer window

Last updated : 24 January 2014 By Joe Public

Over the last 30 years the world of football has changed dramatically and has seen an overall reconstruction of how the game is run, financed and marketed. The largest expenditure of any football league club is its wage bill and players are looked upon as clubs’ assets with increasing and depreciating values.

The present transfer window system was first proposed in the 1990s and made compulsory in the 2002-03 season. One of the most compelling reasons to adopt the system was that it would create "stability", but does it? I would suggest that the restrictive time slots available for signing new players has become outdated and does not reflect the modern day operation of English football and how business should be done given that football is all about the money these days.

There are a few problems that the January transfer window in particular causes. Firstly, prices of average players are inflated and are accepted as the “going rate” to struggling teams looking to bolster their squads mid season and the tighter the time restraints become at the end of the month we see nothing short of fire sales and panic buying and quite often, clubs are left high and dry not to mention out of pocket when negotiations fail at the last second of the closing window as happened between Shane Long and Hull City in the first attempt to acquire his services.

The other problem is, players can fall out of favour with managers and see themselves benched indefinitely and in some cases demoted to reserve teams. Players can be actively devalued and have their form reduced purely because they are trapped by transfer restrictions.

It is also true to say that players who receive lucrative offers from other clubs can also treat their teams with contempt as was the case when Gareth Bale missed a number of training sessions and completely avoid his Spurs manager when Real Madrid was setting up a world-record bid for him. Lately we have seen goal stricken striker Kenwyne Jones text Mark Hughes the night before the Liverpool game to tell him he wasn't going to play possibly in the belief that other clubs (Everton?) were interested in signing him due to his expiring contract and wanted to send a clear message he was available but offers have to be quick as this season’s mid transfer window only has two weeks to run.

It is about time that the FA looked at abolishing the transfer windows in favour of open season contract negotiations. This would allow managers and players to plan long term without having their hands forced as the clock ticks slowly towards midnight on 31st January.

Contracts could be calmly and fairly negotiated with say a 2 month notice period so that each club can have ample opportunity to look for a replacement player and the cup tie rule can still be applied. I believe this open and transparent option would help keep players transfer fees at a sensible level, allow players who are unhappy at clubs to move on at any time just as any man in any job would be allowed to do and a club with a large amount of injuries or simply wanting to strengthen their squad would be able to buy players in sensible time frames.