KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: Michel Platini wants to tighten up the summer transfer window out of concern for its negative impact on both the football and financial health of the game.
The window concept has always been a feature of the game in continental Europe but was a shock to the English game on its implementation as a consequence of the Bosman case fall-out in the mid-1990s.
A compromise agreement with the European Commission maintained the transfer system while offering players the right to move clubs without payment of a fee on the expiry of their contracts.
This evolved into the present system with a financial maelstrom within the last few days and after clubs in all of western Europe’s mainstream leagues have begun domestic and international competition.
Managers such as, most recently, Everton’s Roberto Martinez have complained that the window’s operation has a disruptive effect and prevents effective planning for a campaign.
This criticism was endorsed here today by UEFA president Platini. He pointed out, however, that pursuit of a solution was complicated by essential consideration of worldwide issues and the impossibility of ordering even ‘only’ western European leagues to adopt a simultaneous start date.
He said: “Certainly the transfer window is too long but it does not depend only on Europe. There are South America, Africa and Asia: they don’t play at the same time so this must be seen in a global context.
“Of course the clubs would want to have transfers finished before the start of a competition because the coach wants to start with a given team instead of having half of it change after three weeks.”
UEFA was considering possible solutions which could be set before world federation FIFA.
Platini said: “FIFA can look at what we propose and see if we can’t start the league competitions at the same time.
“It’s also a problem of principle. We will speak about it at our next executive meeting in Dubrovnik. We are looking into it, working on it. Perhaps the transfer window is too large, too long.”
Bale fee ‘morality’
Platini was equivocal, however, on the size of transfer fees.
Asked about the ‘morality’ of Real Madrid paying €90m for Tottenham’s Gareth Bale he said: “This question was being asked 30 years ago when Diego Maradona was being transferred: ‘What? 5m for one player?’
“Then there was Mr Zidane for 60m and Mr Ronaldo for 70m and now we have Mr Bale for maybe 100m.
“We have been asking this same question about the morality of these fees for the last 30 years. It’s not a recent issue.
“If Real Madrid wold buy three players for a total of 100m people would not ask this question because the club has a turnover of more than 250m so they could pay in instalements.”
Platini’s greater concern was over the commercial industry which had built up around the transfer market with many players ‘owned’ by outside companies and too much money finishing up in the pockets of agents.
“Transfers are a robbery,” he said though later he sought to retract the word.
“They are a possibility for a lot of people to make a lot of money and the more transfers there are the more money they make.
“Today the player is more a product than a player and that irks me because a whole pile of people are trying to make this player move to make more commissions.
“We, together with FIFA, should think about that and try to find something more healthy.
“Players are not free. It used to be that when were in a club you belonged to the club. Now players don’t belong to clubs any more but to financial holding companies or to one person and I don’t think that is right.
“We are asking FIFA to take a look into that. This is new in the world of football.
“When I was a player and I signed a contract I did so with the intention of respecting it. Now you have players leaving after three matches or four months. There is something unheathy in this whole business.”
As for Bale’s imminent record-busting move, Platini added: “If Real Madrid want to pay this amount of money I think he must be good otherwise it’s a disaster for Real Madrid.”
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