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Transfer window concept is a right Lionel Messi

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Jim Spence | 19:56 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011

Is it time to put a great big brick through the football transfer window?

As readers of this blog will know, a fair chunk of my time in the last few weeks has been taken up chasing non-stories, half-stories and, now and again, true stories regarding which players were going where in the January window.

It's the time of the year when rumour, innuendo and fact merge seamlessly into a hotch potch of transfer speculation, usually started by the boy in the pub whose brother drinks with the groundsman, who was on a bus with somebody's uncle, who told him that Lionel Messi was definitely coming to Hibs because his favourite auntie lived in Leith.

Why wouldn't a reporter spend hours chasing such an obviously good lead?

But enough of my jaundiced views. What are your thoughts on the window?

Is it good for your club, allowing you to keep your best players at key times, or starving it of much-needed revenue throughout the year?

Have you seen through it for the joke it's clearly become?

I vaguely recall the idea of limiting movement of players to two periods of year was a device to stop the big clubs hoovering up smaller clubs' top talent whenever they chose to, or had the cash to do so.

But the whole concept now seems utterly pointless.

Apart from being a restraint of trade, the whole notion of players only being able to move twice a year is totally artificial.

The transfer market should operate like any other market, with the supply and demand as the key drivers.

That would allow teams to strengthen when they needed to.

It would allow clubs to cash in on selling a player when they needed the money and allow unhappy players to move on.

Mind you, if it is scrapped, it would mean that I would have to chase gossip and rumour the whole year round instead of just a couple of crazy months.

Err, on second thoughts...


  • Comment number 1.


    If there are other readers like me, then the transfer window will mean absolutely nothing to them.

    Maybe you could enlighten me a least, as to how it came to be in the first place.

    For me it was a sort of Rip Van Winkel thing. I woke up one morning and it was if I’d been sleeping for years and suddenly there it was. It has remained a complete mystery to me ever since:

    Who’s idea was it?
    What is it supposed to achieve?
    Is there any point to it?
    Why is it necessary?

    Unless anyone else can convince me that we need it then my vote would be to scrap it.

    If there are no benefits then what is the point of doing it?

  • Comment number 2.

    jim you need to be more radical than just change the transfer dates

    do what everybody else on planet earth has to do. a permanent contract, no signing on fee, a months notice if you wish to leave or be shown the door, no transfer fees.

    player would be paid on a worth basis with an annual salary [with bonus's if necessary for points, penalties or permanent perms, etc].

    if they are not happy they can move on to somewhere they can get a game. if they are not good enough, drop down to a lower level where they are good enough or find other alternative employment somewhere else.

    the benefit is that if any players are not getting games [how well we remember billy dodds reducing his golf handicap in glasgow while still scotlands and dundee uniteds top scorer for the season while not getting a game even for his new employers reserves] they can go to somewhere they could get a game.

    you could probably add in enough players to fill a new ten team league from the players that the two 'glasgow giants' have bought, not necessarily to play, but to weaken or destabalise the opposition by throwing money at the players that other clubs not on telly each week could not afford - o'riordan, mark brown, the big foreign goalie from united, ..... la la la

    i would also go further. use the american system of draft players. let the sfa or similar run 4 teams (north, south, east west) and allow them to play in the lower leagues only. only players aged under 21-23 could play in the team. the players would be coached by national coaches and also have coaching visits from the top teams managers and coaches. they would also get ongoing training for a trade or further education qualification in case they suffer injury or don't make the grade.

    at the end of each year the promoted div 1 team would have the first pick of the senior players from the 4 sfa teams and would be able to keep this player for a period of say 2 years. for instance, if they needed a defender they would chose one from the available players. then the bottom team from the premier, then second bottom ... this would allow the worse teams to get the better players and therefore attempt to improve their squads. the more successful teams would be getting last pick. because the managers are also involved in coaching the sfa players they will have seen them in action in the league and also in training so have a good idea if they player would fit in to their own team.

    players would benefit from knowing their coaching was good quality, job prospects were good and being introduced to the senior game with less pressure than currently being dropped into the first team in a '6 pointer relegation battle'.

    ok the lower divisions are not mentioned above and i can see the neeed for them to be included as well, but the above is just an example of how it could be able to work.

    be radical jim
    lets change for the better rather than change the calendar

  • Comment number 3.

    There is no doubt that in the current economic times, the transfer window is a waste of time - certainly in Scotland. Personally, things tend to work best when you keep them simple. Teams ought to be able to buy and sell as their needs dictate and finances allow. We saw the outcome of the pressure cooker in the Premiership. Andy Carroll neither has the experience or track record to justify £35m and I suspect it would have been more like £10m without the constraints.

    The current system is only good for top players and agents who (as I've said many times) are milking the system and pricing ordinary guys (and ladies!!) out of the game.

    The current system, or any other convoluted system, is a massive overhead to stop the old firm waiting a month or two to plunder the lower leagues.

  • Comment number 4.

    It wouldn't be as much of an issue if clubs showed some common sense, but in England in particular, clubs do very little business for most of August or January then go nuts on the last day. It's turning into some sort of tradition with SKY TV hyping it all up with a reporter outside every stadium in England on "Deadline Day".

    Liverpool buying Carroll is a good example - they have nothing to play for and could have waited until the summer but they spent most of the Torres money on one player.

    Scottish clubs no longer have the finances to be so irresponsible and across the rest of Europe the window doesn't seem to be as big a deal - if a club needs a player then they buy, and if they don't, well, they don't.

  • Comment number 5.

    I thought reporters sat at home and made transfer stories up, each trying to outdo the other with the level of nonsense published,where does all this chasing around come from, Jim ?

    The transfer window was a good idea when it was introduced but times have changed and cash flow problems probably do mean that clubs need to be able to generate income throughout the season not just in one month windows twice a year.
    Hard as it maybe for those who blame everything on OF, it wasn't introduced to suit them, see UEFA & FIFA.

    Making clubs pay the full amount by the end of the season in which the transfer took place would also limit the ridiculous fees being paid by clubs that can't afford it and will, by definition, bring down the absurd transfer fees.

    Such apolicy together with areduction in the monies that SKY pays,which will happen if the EU court upholds the advice on televised football, will only benefit the game.
    In a week when we've had massive fees paid for Torres & Carroll with reported weekly salaries of £175,000 & £90,000 respectively at a time of finacial cutbacks and rising unemployment it's time for sense to permeate the world of football.

  • Comment number 6.

    #2 - skoubhie_dubh

    I like both the draft team idea, and the normal working contracts plan - but I can't see how they could work in tandem.

    Draft players for the lowest raked teams could just work their notice and sign for more money elsewhere.

    Otherwise, we have discriminatory contracts for younger players.

    I'd also struggle to see how the normal working contract could be brought in unilaterally - though I would agree that it'd be nice if FIFA could do it, nothing short of violent revolt will bring it about.

    On the other hand, the draft team plan could work with Scottish backing and implementation alone. If only the SPL or the aptly-named SFA were remotely interested in improving the game...

  • Comment number 7.

    A transfer window would only work if clubs were unable to conduct contract negotiations with their existing playing staff outwith the windows.

    Undue influence, lawyers would call it (if there wasn't so much money involved for all concerned).

    What should happen?

    No transfer window, but clubs should have to pay (their national association, here the SFA) an increasingly large fee - having regard to the value of the transfer fee and to the club's footballing revenue (NOT profit) for the previous season - to process a new registration as the season progresses.

    Determined by the number of league games yet to be played, and using an exponential function, the price paid for registration towards the end of the season (when clubs might be tempted to buy success (or to avoid failure/relegation) should be around 25 (or even 50) times as much as would be the case before the season kicks off in August.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm not sure if i agree with the transfer window or not, however being a St.Mirren fan, i feel that if the transfer window was scrapped, we'd be left further behind than we already are. If a team like Hibs are having a bad season (as they currently find themselves doing) they would be able to go out and buy a player to strengthen their team as they have the financial backing to do so, teams like St.Mirren don't. The transfer window keeps things on a level playing field and helps promote more young players into first team squads.

  • Comment number 9.

    Scrapping the transfer window would be a very bad idea. People have short memories about how things used to work. The current restrictions on transfers and the 25 player squads limit makes the game more competitive. Adding in financial fair play to this should bring things even closer together and improve the competition. It's a nonsense at the moment for teams to trade at 80-100 million loss.

    Nobody wants to go back to having players tapped up and unsettled all through the season. The largest clubs - and think about European wide not just in England - would use this to protect their position, far worse than what happens today. Trying to assemble a team to challenge for a CL place would become even more impossible than it is already.

    What we need is continue to level the playing field, not the other way around.

    As far as club finances go, it's for each club to act responsibly and not blame everyone else for it's failings. The transfer window doesn't make most of the clubs in England trade at a loss, bad financial management does.

  • Comment number 10.

    As I understood it the window was supposed to curb the clubs with financial clout cherry picking as they went through the season. At least the window protects against this happening and stops the unsettling nature of speculation on players as well as disruption in squads.

    Artifical Jim? Yes but many things are and this at least regulates some of the madness that might go on with bigger money clubs and restricts buying to defined periods.

    It may not be the best solution to these problems Jim but untile someone comes up with another system...

  • Comment number 11.

    How about football [players' and managers'] contracts mean exactly what it says, and are NON-transferable!

    If a club gives a player a three year contract, then they MUST pay that player for the subsequent three years - and then let him walk away (for no money).

    Similarly, for a player, if he signs a three year contract, then he is stuck with that club - even if the Old Firm, Milan or Man U want to offer him millions after one or two years.

    Shorter contracts would doubtless ensue, but at least everyone would KNOW which players were available and when - and an end to transfer fees!!!

    (Tapering ROYALTIES - not fees as such - would be payable to players' youth development origins until they were 25, payable BY the players ... bot only if they are employed in football and are earning over a certain threshold, a bit like student loans.)

  • Comment number 12.

    Living in North America I have to admit I have always found the whole transfer mode in Europe very confusing and alien. Here we have athletes sign a contract to play for a team for a certain length of time and that is what they deal with unless 1) the team trades the player to another team for a comparable (collection of) player(s), and the player can choose to renegotiate his contract or keep the existing (until the contract runs out), or the contract runs out. As far as I can see in European soccer (or football if you prefer) a contract really doesn't mean a whole lot. A player can sign for a million years and if the team decides to sell him then they do - contract null and void. Contracts really don't seem to mean anything. Maybe I'm wrong but, if you sign with a team for three years you should be committed to play for that team for theree years. Period.

  • Comment number 13.

    I do like the idea of a draft system, but for it to work properly we'd need the SFA to control all youth football and for the clubs to pay a fee to the SFA when the draft came around to fund the 50 or so regional teams we'd need to make it worthwhile. Very expensive and not going to happen.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think some posters are getting confused between a transfer window/fair play regulation/squad size.

    The abolition of a transfer window doesn't mean that squad sizes have to decrease, does it? The same situation would apply as does now, i.e. if the squad size is 25 then the names can be varied by adding the player purchased,removing another either from the named squad or by selling him.

    The fair play regulations are intended to make clubs live within their means, what comes in is what you can spend on your team so teams such as St. Mirren(#8) would still be dependent upon gate receipts to improve the quality of their playing staff.

    My point was that, as previous blogs have centred on the need for greater finances for most clubs, a cashflow boost or boosts throughout the season may be better than having to wait for a prescribed window.

    A hypothetical example would be if a player was in demand say from September onwards but is then injured in December and out for a while, any possible transfer is off and may be off permanently, which means the selling club loses out.

    Considering the lack of activity in Scotland over the last window it may be irrelevant anyway.

    Looks like another blog dying on it's backside Jim !!

  • Comment number 15.

    Well Jim,

    Morbhoy has just pronounced the death sentence on another one of your Blogs and I am still none the wiser about the topic.

    Perhaps I’ll get lucky and stumble across a low budget documentary on the Discovery Channel – “Unsolved Mysteries – The Football Transfer Window”.

    Still, I'm interested in knowing how it all came to be in first place if you’d care to offer some explanation.

  • Comment number 16.

    No doubt that the January window can inflate the price of players but is that such a bad thing?

    Allegedly LFC and NUFC had agreed a price of £25m for Carroll but the latter ratcheted up their asking price by £10m at the last minute.

    In the end all the the money was sloshed around and NUFC never had to sell their player on the cheap.

    What is it they say about the January window: usually for the desperate and rarely providing good value.

    Lots of excitement in the greed league though!

  • Comment number 17.

    @16 Rob04 - I understand the sentiment of your post. My problem however is that the inflated prices have to be paid for. Yes there are a handful of clubs with backers who seem to want to right off tens of millions chasing some dream or another e.g Man City, Chelsea. However the vast majority of spend has to be re-couped. Either through excessive costs for Sky (which could all go pear shaped in the high court) or through the cost of season tickets, merchandising and a system that thinks its good for the old firm to play 7 times in a season. When the average guy has to work half a day to pay his way into match then the system (in my very 'umble opinion) is not sustainable. As such the extra 10M extracted for Carroll will be paid for at Annfield by real punters - His entry, pie, bovril, programme, replica shirt etc have all just gone up as a consequence and at a time where most businesses are looking to drive value for money

    The problem is people don't translate the millions into how to extract the revenue to pay for it - just look at how difficult Rangers are finding it to balance the books despite the revenues from Europe.

    The recent transfer window was a waste of time - most clubs were just re-arranging the deck-chairs on the footballing version of the Titanic - mainly because of the loan deals which had expired rather than any cash being available.

    It simply drives inflated prices that we all end up paying.

  • Comment number 18.

    #17 Uriah,

    Chelsea funded the Liverpool/Newcastle deals by buying Torres for £50M which meant in effect Liverpool could afford Carroll and Suarez on the back of this plus the money received for Babel, net cost = NIL and shouldn't affect the prices at Annfield.

    Newcastle have died and gone to heaven. Ashley cops £35M too near the deadline to spend it, his team gets out of jail v Arsenal when it looked like resulting in a riot and the fans are delirious over a 4-4 draw no matter how well deserved it was.

    Liverpool and Newcastle would pronounce the transfer window a success and give thanks to Abramovic.

  • Comment number 19.

    If the transfer window applies to players, it should appply to managers aswell

  • Comment number 20.

    Not much happened in Scotland over the transfer window.Maybe it is because the SPL has no money,and it now rated a minnow in Europe(ranked 16th)

    The top four teams from the SPL should join with the top four teams from the Irish and Welsh leagues to form a 'Celtic' league.This would enable the minor countries to access more sponsorship.


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