It’s January, so that can only mean there is one topic of conversation around the football world at the moment; the transfer window. Newspapers, websites, blogs, social media sites and the like will be awash with rumours; and for a football fan it certainly does add a little pinch of extra excitement in the middle of, what sometimes can be, a very long season.
Sky Sports News have certainly helped build up this time of the year in the football calendar as they use their countdown clock to try and whip up a frenzy as the window heads towards its conclusion, and the ‘famous’ last six hours with Jim White are now classed as a must see event in many households throughout the country. But what good does the transfer window really bring to the footballing world?
The transfer window was brought into English Football in the 2001/02 season and replaced the old system of a transfer deadline, and ever since it has been a sore subject with a lot of managers in the English game, with Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp voicing his dislike for the system calling it a ‘nonsense’ and appealing for it to be scrapped. Harry Redknapp is not alone in his thoughts on the transfer window with former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson once quoted as saying, “you wonder at times if it right to have a window, it was easier when it was open all the time and perhaps fairer for players.”
Both Mr Eriksson and Mr Redknapp are most definitely in the majority within football management when it comes to their views on the transfer window, every January you hear managers from clubs outside the ‘top’ five or six stating that they are dreading the window for fear of their best players being sold with little time to find a replacement, or managers stating that you have to pay a premium to buy a player in January.
Although we only really hear the complaints from the Premier League managers due to the media coverage which they receive it is possibly the lower league teams which are most affected, and it begs the question, what do the teams that rely on the loan system as the only viable option do when their top striker is injured outside of the window and they have only two strikers at the club?
An even worse scenario for a lower league club, with a small income, has to be the thought of hitting financial trouble outside of the window but having a talented young player who they have invested time and money on developing and is now worth two or three million pounds and not being able to sell him. By the time the window reopens the club could be in all sorts of financial trouble and possibly even in administration, where the young player will possibly be then sold by the administrators for well under his true market value.
In 1995 Jean-Marc Bosman changed the whole transfer system by taking his case to the European Court of Justice and winning, how long before a Football club, player or agent does the same with the current transfer window for a ‘restriction of trade’? But until such a time arrives the current system will stay in place, and whilst it does on January the 31st I for one will be glued to my T.V watching the final countdown with Jim White.