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Should the transfer window apply to managers?

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Jim Spence | 21:09 UK time, Friday, 8 January 2010

The transfer window for players is a complete restraint of trade and is likely to fall at the first legal challenge.

However, things are what they are, not what we might like them to be. That being the case, why one rule for players and another for managers?

If players can only move in January and in the summer, maybe it's time to apply the same rule for bosses or scrap the rule completely.

The arguments for the window at present are that it levels the playing field and stops rich clubs strengthening when others cannot.

So why not keep the playing field level and insist directors stick with the man they originally thought good enough to do the job in the first place?

training595.jpgThis would give managers stability, peace of mind and perhaps the freedom to try things they normally feel under too much pressure to attempt.

The game is too short term in its thinking at the best of times. This approach would force boards of directors to be more diligent, do more research, and think harder about the kind of individual that really fits their club.

Supporters would have to learn to be more patient as their manager experimented with the inexact science of running a football team composed of individuals who face the same day-to-day problems as the rest of us, consequently affecting their form.

The approach would also save countless hundreds of thousands of pounds sloshing about each season in compensation to sacked bosses.

Football doesn't live according to the normal rules that govern most lives so if it has to be different then at least it can be consistent in its treatment of managers and players.

Getting rid of a manager would still be possible but only on grounds of something like gross misconduct.

And if directors think a long losing streak qualifies as such, then they should surely contemplate resignation themselves for the incompetence of picking such a manager in the first place.


  • Comment number 1.

    while I can see where you are coming from Jim, I don't think this is practical. Take my Dundee United for example. We have lost our manager to the national would that fit into you plans for a Manager Transfer Window or even the alternative of no manager swaps throughout the season? As Burley had failed to take us to the World Cup (and so his season was over)he could be replaced but its outside of the domestic season and managers would have to wait until May before leaving so how would Scotland fill the vacancy? Actually I wish this were the rule as Levein would at least be with us until the end of this season!! :)

  • Comment number 2.

    The entire window should be scrapped, it was brought in to make it a level playing field. Dont make me laugh. It has made the rich richer, the poor poorer.It is freedom of trade. And, the smaller clubs need it as much as the larger clubs. Before it was introduced, any team from 6 or 7 teams in all the major leagues could have won that league. Now, if you have 2 or 3 teams, you can count that as a major battle. Most leagues now is either a 1 or 2 horse race. Some level playing field that is.....

  • Comment number 3.

    @ FarEastArab

    Wee Jim is an Arab pal.

    With regards to your point, Jim has already addressed it. If Burley would of been guilty of 'gross misconduct' for failing to get Scotland to the WC then surely Gordon Smith is guilty of the same?

    What would of happened is that the SFA probably wouldnt have picked Burley.

    you see?

  • Comment number 4.

    I can see where Jim is coming from here but I don't agree with him. There does seem to be a tendency in the media to take the view that every manager sacking is kneejerk. Jim's fello BBC blogger Chic being the most guilty. But the impact on a club when things are no longer working for a club is just too severe to limit changing a manager until a particular window.

    A better system would be the one used in Italy which allows you sack the manager at any time but prevents you from appointing one who has worked for another Italian club in the same season. This would allow clubs to change managers if they so desire but prevent the knock-on chaos of causing other clubs having to change a manager during a period of relative calm for them. It would also encourage clubs to undertake a more robust assessment of their incumbent manager during the summer which is the best time to make a change rather than 'we'll give him until mid September and then see what happens' strategy so much loved by chairmen across the country.

  • Comment number 5.

    If a team 'falls out' with one of its players, they are at liberty simply not to pick him for the period until the following transfer window; this would not be an option as regards managers.

    What I find more concerning is the fact that players are allowed to sign contracts outwith the transfer windows - IF it extends their contract with their existing club.

    There should be a requirement that the SFA, for Scotland, be custodian of all player contracts (as well as registrar) - and, other than those limited circumstances which already allow out-of-window signings, NO club may offer a contract to ANY player (even if already an employee of the club).

  • Comment number 6.

    I cannot see the point of this idea Jim, sorry. As said if players are not peforming then you do not play them. So what would you do with the manager? Just keep letting him make bad decisions, may be poor man-management problems?
    I think you are right that there is a need to make Chairmen more responsible for their choice. But I also think that the managers themselves should take most of the responsiblity and they know when they are doing a good job and when they are not.
    But I have never agreed in the transfer window idea. If you want a level playing field just have a salary cap. It would be interesting to know if a salary cap would be a restriction of trade? I do not think so as it is not the individual players who are being restricted?

  • Comment number 7.

    Not sure I agree with your ‘same rule’ suggestion, Jim, but I fully agree with your comment on the ‘short term’ thinking. When a player is dropped it is because he fails to measure up to the mark, but if all or a significant number of players fail to measure up to the mark, the team fails. Which if current thinking prevails, means that this has to be down to the manager. Right? Not necessarily. After all ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear’.

    This short term thinking dictates that we link poor team performance with poor managers every time things go sour. The question we seem to be unable to ask is, ‘Has the manager provided good management?’ Whilst there will be plenty of situations where the answer will be ‘no’, the reality is that in many situations is answer is ‘yes’, and that perfectly able managers are labelled failures without justification.

    What this does to the individual I cannot imagine but Scottish Football cannot afford to loose what little talent it has. The responsibility to ensure quality management is that of the Directors through their own selection processes, their clubs policies and the levels of support that they provide.

    If a team fails and adequate management has not been provided it is the Directors who should be held accountable. For only if they have fulfilled their role beyond all reasonable doubt, would it then be acceptable to sack a manager but if Directors buckle under the fury of fans, it is a measure of their lack of humility, integrity and ability.

    So if fans want someone's neck is a noose, they should start with their own Chairman for in my opinion, the answers to short term thinking lie in the board rooms, not in setting up time frames during which short term thinking can be let loose and re-applied with even greater gusto.

  • Comment number 8.

    Never mind the issue of the Managers for now - there are more important issues looming, as a fellow Arab Jim you need to get hold of Stephen Thompson and bend his ears - I have heard down under that Mixu Paatelainen has emerged as a strong candidate for the manager's post at our sacred club . This was noted from the News of the World. I am not sure if in fact this news article is accurate - but get a grip guys - Mixu Paatelainen !!!! no no no no no.

    Jim if you hold our club dear to your heart then you will publish some form of comment on this tragic decision even to consider him - is a crime in its self.

    I know this is not the current topic in discussion - but we need to get this issue back on the agenda for debate - we Arabs are going through a rough patch at present - and our players don't need speculation like this to make our performances on the park any worse than it is.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think the Transfer Window should be from June to March (e.g. Jun 2010 to March 2011) with each player only being able to play for two clubs in that period.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well I think removing the transfer window entirely would bring more chaos to an already chaotic situation. Could you imagine the transfer free-for-all that would occur should the windows be removed. If you could just bring in a player whenever it suited you, Man Utd would have bought/loaned a Centre Back in the middle of November, when they were struggling very seriously in that position. It would just see the big clubs buying players as soon as one got injured long-term, or when the realisation that they needed a certain position, leaving the smaller clubs to have to make do until the end of the season when they get the payoffs from the season.

    As for applying the transfer window to managers I don't think it would be workable. Instead, applying normal employment laws to the managerial position, making it more difficult to fire managers.

  • Comment number 11.

    we need to get rid of the window either in the case of no transfers at all during open season or the market is open always, this window business is a disgrace and a waste of time, there are no benefits to anyone and it only inflates prices

  • Comment number 12.

    The current transfer windows, is a joke. Bringing in a transfer window for managers, would be an even bigger joke. Scrap the lot I say.

  • Comment number 13.

    I can't see how it can be fair to restrain freedom of movement for players, yet have no restriction on managers who could in theory change clubs as often as someone was prepared to pay compensation for them.

    Football is a team game, and that includes the manager who may well have just signed up several players on long term deals committing the club to a hefty layout, before leaving for pastures new.

    But the key point is that a transfer window for bosses would allow them more security and let them build the side patiently without looking over their shoulder every couple of bad results. It would be up to boards of directors to do their homework more diligently in the first place.

    I'm not convinced in these financially strapped times that the present system should continue. Either we have one rule for all, or we scrap the transfer window system entirely, (which by the way is my preferred option.)

    That would allow cash to circulate more freely round clubs and would allow players to move on when they or their club felt it was right to do so.

    The law of the land applies to everyone equally, the laws of football should be no different.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with the sentiment but apart from your last statement, the rest of of the points don't carry any weight for me.
    Your right it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that football can behave in such a manner that just walks over people to get what it wants.
    Football may be a game but it is also a business and although football clubs, their directors or their team managers are in the public spotlight, they still get away with murder. It may seem like a lofty position to be a director or manager with a Scottish Football club but in managerial terms it is pretty far down in the ‘pecking order’.
    If these people operated within a large international corporate under the scrutiny of tens of thousands of people, they simply wouldn’t cut it. They wouldn’t get to treat people the way they do and they wouldn’t last any length of time at all.
    I notice that it is becoming more and more popular to use ‘legal’ phraseology but don’t allow it to become devalued into a buzz word.
    You are not talking about criminal law her but civil law and unfortunately nothing is quite clear cut and whether things are fair or not within the eyes of the law require a determination in the courts.
    There is little doubt in my mind that Motherwell’s former manager for all his dislikeable arrogance was right when he said that, “ football is an ugly industry” and that managers and players do not receive the same protection of their rights that they would receive in other industries.
    But on the other hand, the law that protects the rights of you and I is not so easily applied when it is undermined by people signing up to contractual arrangements that muddy the waters. Windows for managers are just one example.
    Maybe that’s why players and managers don’t stand up to their rights. Maybe that’s why managers don’t sue for wrongful dismissal. Add board room bullying to their claim and the tribunal settlement start to rise. But in the end they sign the Compromise Agreement and so the legal protection they could have had, is lost without any form of recourse.
    The law may apply to us all, but not if you don’t fight for your rights.
    Scottish Football boardrooms have to up THEIR game and if they don’t then it is up to the fans to see that they do.

  • Comment number 15.

    #10, Nick SD wrote:

    "Could you imagine the transfer free-for-all that would occur should the windows be removed."

    Well, yes. It would be the same as it was before the introduction of the transfer window.

    Towards the end of the season, if a club was challenging for a place in Europe, it might be inclined to pay way over the odds for an able player from a middle-of-table club.

    The club selling would gain enhanced revenue, allowing it to either spend more in the off-season or to upgrade facilities, etc. The club buying might well go on to gain a place in Europe, giving additional revenue, allowing it to do likewise.

    Sounds like a plan to me.


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