Last week, there was news about how Premier League clubs’ shareholders had agreed to convene on September 9th to discuss the possibility about changing the transfer window’s closing date. Presently, the window closes on August 31st, which is on an average, 20 days after the Premier League season starts.
The proposal is that the Premier League’s window should be snapped shut earlier. On the eve of match week 1, to be precise. However, a point to note here is that this proposal will only be applicable to the English top flight, not the other leagues around the world, who will continue to reap the benefits of the extra 20 days worth of transfers.
On the face of it, this seems like an excellent move, as is backed up by Sean Dyche, Jurgen Klopp and Paul Clement to name a few. Nevertheless, there are inherent pitfalls in a system like this.
One obvious benefit to clubs it that they will have a fixed squad to work with for the entire season. This can be a huge asset, as plenty of times, the management heads into the season unsure of whether or not a player would still be available for selection 2 weeks down the line.
Take the case of Virgil Van Dijk. As gifted a defenders as he is, there exists an enormous shadow of doubt over his future at St. Mary’s. And because of that doubt, managers cannot call upon him for a significant time, and neither can they be sure if he is to be included in the plans at all. To quote Sean Dyche “You don’t want to start the season and lose three of your players when you’re three games into the season.
That could be really hard to take. And that happens.” Just for that one reason, this would be a huge step in the right direction for several clubs. Managers’ press conferences routinely see them bombarded with questions about the futures of various players. 2 games into the season, should the people not be asking about how the preparations for the upcoming game are going and the recent results?
The most obvious con was highlighted at the beginning of the article, which is that it is only the Premier League market that would be shut. The foreign leagues will continue to buy and sell players for the 20 odd days that remain. And herein lie 2 of the biggest cases for opting against this switch. While PL clubs signing players from each other would be halted, there is nothing to stop foreign giants from swooping in at the eleventh hour and triggering release clauses.
Secondly, the additional inflation it would cause would be gargantuan. Premier League clubs earn so much money from TV rights that it puts the world’s best clubs’ revenue to shame. Sunderland pocketed themselves £93m for finishing rock bottom last season, a figure more than Bayern, Juventus and Monaco received for winning their respective divisions. The only word I can use to describe this is abysmal.
The new trend in the transfer market is that of mammoth inflation, and if selling clubs now know that the clock is ticking on every PL signing, they could resort to daylight robbery, demanding silly sums for their players, which, Premier League clubs would lose little sleep over paying. Furthermore, foreign clubs could wind down the clock and make late bids to ‘poach’ PL talent. If Coutinho would have set Barca back £125m right now, a bid of under £165m would have been laughed away by the Liverpool board next season. The market would become extremely volatile.
And lastly, everyone knows of the PL clubs’ management’s ruthlessness when it coming to signing and discarding managers. Consider someone like Frank De Boer, who just signed for Palace and got a month and a half with them during pre-season, during which time he built a solid foundation around Wilfried Zaha. 2 losses out of 2 show that something is clearly missing, and the injury to main man Zaha in the first game of the season was a dampener on the club.
In the new scenario, De Boer would not have the power to bring in another player or two, but would have to steer the ship a considerable while without the man he built his team around, while simultaneously still getting to know his squad to the fullest, with no comfort of easing the burden through another signing.
In conclusion, the cons far outweigh the pros, and while this would undoubtedly bring stability to the squads, it would come at the price of gross instability of the market as a whole. This move is a brick wall, one which the bandwagon of club executives would be best to steer clear of.
Written by Ayush Verma.