With a comparatively dull January transfer window, smaller clubs left empty handed mid season and multiple loopholes waiting to be exploited, we ask the question: should the January transfer window be abolished?
With their yellow ties donned, the rumour mill churning, and the unemployed reporters camped at training grounds of Premier League teams around the country, the August and January Transfer Deadline Days represents two of the most media-hyped days of the domestic football season, but with the latter often providing more disappointment than it does entertainment, is it time to consider abolishing the January transfer window?
Only two clubs in the English Premier League could really consider themselves as transfer window winners when the markets slammed shut on February 2nd. Chelsea and Manchester City added significantly to their squads, suggesting that the window really is the domain of the ultra rich.
According to the secretary general of FIFPro (the players’ union) Theo van Seggelen, there is reason enough to scrap the concept of transfer windows all together and return to the system used before their compulsory introduction in 2002. It is suggested that footballers are being failed by the clubs in terms of the stability of their contracts, and due to the precarious nature of the windows, over 4,000 grievance cases that boil down to issues with pay or wrongful termination are lodged annually. The state in which this occurs, usually depends on how much the wronged can claim from these grievances. Many people can check out Colorado termination laws or whichever state they’re in to find this out, if they think they have been a victim of it. The problem is, the majority of people in this situation happens to be footballers.
Yet, it isn’t just the players that suffer. The window, once seen as a beacon of hope to teams across the country, whether contenders for a top half finish or strugglers looking to avoid the drop, is now a source of constant media attention but little action, and is proving to be a hindrance to clubs.
The main sports news provider in the UK has even turned deadline day into an event – or at least they try to. In reality, very little happened on February 2nd while loan signings from Mansfield to Wigan are hardly likely to fire the imagination. They desperately try to build a fanfare but few of us are really fooled.
Set to backfire
Creating disharmony in a squad that has spent the previous six months building a rapport, the mid-season introduction of new blood often has negative effects, and despite their best intentions, can seriously harm a manager’s cause should a new signing not breed positive results in a short space of time.
The Premier League saw a small flurry of action to close the January window in 2015, and while coverage of the event was as manic as ever, the popularity and social media buzz seems to have dissipated somewhat, yet clubs persist on making last ditch attempts to sign players that would, if not for time constraints, barely be given a second look. Moreover, the chain of late deals must end somewhere, resulting in at least one club falling victim of the system, as exemplified in Scotland to start 2015.
At the end of last month, Celtic waited until midnight to sign a pair of Dundee United stars, resulting in the Terrors casting their net far and wide to find replacements, and fast. An hour later, they had secured a talented youngster in Robbie Muirhead, who departed Kilmarnock at 1am, after the deadline passed, ensuring the Rugby Park club lost a player that had already made an impact in the league, and weren’t given an opportunity to find a replacement.
Searching for a fairer process
Should the transfer window be abolished, a situation such of this would have allowed Killie to replenish their squad and continue their push for a top half finish in the Scottish Premiership. Of course, a return to the former system would have its own hurdles, of that there is no doubt, but with window that passes, it becomes clearer that the system is in need of reform.
Back in England, there was a similar issue with the signing of Wilfried Bony who crossed over from mid table Swansea City to a Manchester City team looking for their fourth Premier League title. The switch came relatively early in January so manager Garry Monk was given a little more time to source a replacement but where would he find someone of Bony’s quality at such a difficult point of the season? Players may be happy to join up with a club challenging for honours but few will be so keen to sign for a club with very little left in their campaign.
It was a similar situation for Fiorentina who lost their exciting Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado to Premier League leaders Chelsea. The London club now have a stronger squad as they look to close in on another divisional trophy but the Italian side, who were among the favourites to win the Europa League, have suddenly been robbed of one of their best players and now they have to wait until the summer to replace him.
Time for a change of system
Yes, the window may be boring, and of course most fans could name players that have been subject to a January move and gone on to succeed, yet the knock on effect that has upon the squad, and more importantly the now displaced player who has little option other than acceptance, can cause disharmony and disrupts a team’s season so quickly.
Transfers being made on an ad-hoc basis would avoid such issues, and ensure that a Premier League season can be completed in a fairer manner. Despite the cliché, it is often the case that sometimes, you must take one step back to go two steps forward.