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Transfer Window: Good or Bad?

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I’ve heard several people say that the transfer window is ‘bad’ for football in England; after reading Paul Fletcher’s article on it this morning I thought it was worth commenting on the matter.

For the record, as a football fan I’m all for the transfer window – it keeps the transfer madness locked up to a few months every year. On the other hand, I’d be the first one to change my view on this IF the case against the transfer window was strong enough. So let’s look at both sets of arguments:

Arguments against the transfer window:

From Paul’s article (where he discusses the matter with several football league managers):

1. If a side is struggling financially then selling a player can make a huge difference.

2. Transfer windows mean that reinforcements can only be brought in via the emergency loan system.

3. Clubs are left with little time to bring in adequate reinforcements for late sales.

4. Injuries can leave a club short-handed.

To this I’ll add one more – it’s bad for those in the football news business. With an year-round transfer season there would be year-round speculation, meaning more money for those who make money selling ‘news’.

In all of this, I see more excuses for poor planning and financial mismanagement than a real crisis created by the transfer window. If we’re talking about the clubs and players (since this is about them and not us as fans or us as publishers), there’s a definite restriction of trade but we have to weight that against the reasons for that restriction.

Arguments for the transfer window:

It’s fashionable to rail against the establishment, so I wouldn’t be surprised if no one made any arguments FOR the transfer window. Right now I can only think of two:

1. A year-long transfer season make it easy for other clubs to unsettle players.

2. A year-long transfer season can have players leave clubs at crucial junctures of the season leaving them under-staffed, especially if it’s late in the season and other clubs aren’t willing to sell.

For or Against?

So in effect, the transfer window brings in stability at the cost of restricting clubs in their buying and selling and at the cost of denying players the right to move whenever they want to.

Take two possible scenarios – in one, Real Madrid pursue Fabregas and Ronaldo all year long, to the point where fans turn against the players and the players are so unsettled at the club that their teammates start resenting them and ultimately the manager has no choice but to sell them (replace the buying club and players to suit yourself).

In another scenario, here’s a League Two club who, with a small squad, have suffered a freak spate of injuries leaving them with 14 players for the upcoming game. What will they do? Sign a player or bring someone in on an emergency loan? As a manager, I’d bring in a loanee for 1-2 months even if I could sign a player – it’s inexpensive, it’s short-term, there are no commitments and if you like the player and he likes playing for your club you can go for him later.

You can paint a hundred other scenarios – the point is, stability comes at a price and asks clubs to plan ahead of time. The emergency loan system takes care of the extreme cases where injuries and suspensions hamstring a team for the short term.

Share your views in the comments section below, especially if you have more reasons to add in support or against the current system.

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Comments (2)

  1. I personally think it’s a bad thing. In any other business, a restriction of trade would be crackers and goes against sound economic thinking. Football is no different. The windows also inflate prices as clubs know they’ve got to buy before a certain period and may pay over the odds for a player they really want.

    (Although, on the flipside, I suppose it does mean you’ve got a few players available at a bargain price. But it still ends up distorting what could be seen as a reasonable value).

    I’d rather see it scrapped. It especially hurts lower league clubs, as Fletch notes.

  2. I think you have to have a window, imagine the Barry, Berbatov, Ronaldo sagas going on all year, man that would be annoying for all involved