EPL Clubs Expected To Close Summer Transfer Window Before Start Of Season
Premier League clubs are reportedly set to take a "landmark decision to bring in their own transfer deadline" that would ensure the window "shuts before the start of the season," according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. The issue is on the agenda for the next meeting of Premier League chairs on Sept. 7 and sources close to the negotiations "are confident that the vast majority of the 20 clubs will vote for the change." The new rule would bring the transfer deadline forward by two to three weeks "so that clubs in the English top flight would not be permitted to sign players once the season has begun." Many chairs and managers think that "the uncertainty caused by the window still being open for the first three weeks of the season can cause disruption" to squads and plans. At least 14 of the 20 clubs need to vote in favor, "but those pushing for the rule change are confident of success." The new rule "would effectively be a joint agreement" by clubs that would prevent incoming players from being signed once the season has kicked off, but would "still allow players to be sold," as is required under FIFA's transfer rules (LONDON TIMES, 8/14).
FOLLOWING SUIT?: In London, Ben Rumsby reported the "entire professional game in England" could adopt a summer transfer window after the English Football League "announced it would discuss following the Premier League's lead on the matter." The EFL confirmed on Tuesday that it "could follow suit." An EFL spokesperson said, "The EFL board and its clubs have previously expressed the opinion that closing the summer transfer window in advance of the season commencing would be an improvement on the current position. On this basis, we will be tabling the matter for discussion with clubs in September" (TELEGRAPH, 8/15).
'ADVANCED STAGE': In London, Mark Dobson reported the Premier League's talks are at an "advanced stage" and the move could be implemented next year if the vote gets a two-thirds majority. Watford is "believed to be one of the few to oppose the plan" but a large number are said to be broadly in favor. The current window will shut on Aug. 31 and "promises to leave a number of clubs with collateral damage as they attempt to fight off suitors" for their players. Liverpool Manager Jürgen Klopp "has been consistent in his call" for deadline day to be brought forward. He said, "It would have helped us this year [if the window had shut when the season began]" (GUARDIAN, 8/14). In London, John Percy reported Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson's "protracted" £50M ($64.4M) move to Everton "has been one of the sagas of the summer," while Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk’s future "remains uncertain" amid interest from clubs including Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City. Sigurdsson and Van Dijk did not play for their respective clubs in their opening games this season "due to the uncertainty." Many managers, including most recently Swansea’s Paul Clement, have criticized the current setup (TELEGRAPH, 8/14).
IT'S COMPLICATED: The BBC's Simon Stone commented it is a "complicated scenario, not least because it has the potential to put England's top-flight teams at a disadvantage" because rivals across Europe will be active in the market for up to three weeks after the Premier League window has closed. The plan would have "no power to prevent" a club such as Barcelona from targeting Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho -- as Barcelona has done this summer -- "for instance." There is also the potential for clubs that do not agree or agents to "mount a legal challenge." However, "the disruption caused by the continuation of the transfer window beyond the start of the season has become so great," and started to affect so many teams, "the feeling that something has to be done has begun to take hold" (BBC, 8/15).
FATAL FLAW: ESPN.com's Mark Ogden commented it "makes perfect sense for Premier League clubs to vote to impose their own transfer deadline." But the initiative "will be fatally flawed if the back door remains open" for players to leave for foreign teams until Aug. 31. The Premier League "can lead a global change in the transfer market, however, by becoming the first to rule out trading" once the season has started. It would make "clearer business sense" for clubs across the world to have their transfer dealings concluded before competition begins, "yet football and business sense rarely go hand in hand" (ESPN.com, 8/15).