On Thursday (7th September 2017) afternoon – one week after the transfer window slammed shut – Premier League clubs unanimously voted to bring forward the summer window deadline from August 31 at 23:00 to August 9 at 17:00; effective from next year and the upcoming 18/19 campaign.
Prior to the vote, the topic had been previously discussed twice in formal capacities at both the February and June Premier League stakeholder meetings this year.
This decision to close the window before the Premier League season begins will not affect any of the Football League sides, nor will it impact the remainder of Europe. Although, Football League bosses have expressed their interest in following in the Premier League’s footsteps after further dialogue with stakeholders will ultimately finalise the proposal.
But what has proven most interesting is that only the buying negotiations are halted as a result. Premier League clubs are still entitled to sell players at their discretion so long as the buying club operates inside a division whose window is still active. Which is exactly where the design flaw in this system presents itself.
As it currently stands, Premier League clubs would not be able to buy or sell players from one another after the deadline but will leave themselves vulnerable to Foreign markets for almost a further month.
What is difficult to understand is the Premier League’s ruling on limiting the time they have to replace any unaccounted departures. It comes as even more of a shock after the increased debate over the last couple of years surrounding how certain teams have extended periods to assemble their squads before their season kicks off in relation to Premier League clubs.
The number of clubs in favour of the change is currently unknown but for the decision to have been ruled, it must have been at least 14 of the 20 teams. It’s difficult to decipher which clubs may have been opposed and which were for the change. Logic would suggest that the top six sides would be against limiting their spending – certainly if other league’s clubs are unaffected. But then it’s almost inconceivable to believe that the Premier League would go over the heads of these combined forces.
Perhaps the thinking behind their decision was predicated on an eventual plan to enforce the same restrictions on the rest of Europe. Wherever the motivation lies, it could have a cataclysmic effect on those currently involved. Take the Coutinho-Liverpool-Barcelona saga this year as an example. Had things gone differently for Liverpool under the newly registered rules, the fee would become inconsequential. Liverpool would be without Coutinho or a replacement until the January window at the earliest.
The disruptiveness that is a product of transfer speculation and a player’s future will not magically disappear because of this change, either. In fact, we could see them become far more detrimental. It’s hard to envision similar rules being implemented across Europe which would prevent the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid from acquiring the country’s best during this period. If anything, we could see an increase in activity during this abyss. Sides might develop tactics that use this system to their benefit in establishing a firmer ranking over their English rivals. Suddenly, we could see Champions League Football becoming an even greater struggle for England’s participating teams.
And while it’s partially understandable to see why Premier League clubs would respond favourably to this decision, the positives are still far outweighed by the negatives.
A fitting solution would be to suspend all activity on transfers globally on the same deadline – July 31 for example. Imposing such a policy could help create a level playing field for all sides, and not just sides in the same division, but across the footballing world.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of this occurring in a world where contemporary football’s disturbing focus on the inflated market grows significantly is increasingly slim.