KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Premier clubs have voted to put themselves at the mercy of happily acquisitive clubs in Europe’s other Big-Five leagues by deciding voluntarily to close the summer transfer window before the first game of next season.
The 2018 window will close on the Thursday before the first match of the next campaign on August 9.
The rule applies only to the buying of players, players would still have the right to be sold abroad before the standard August 31 transfer window deadline. January’s transfer window remains unaffected by the impending changes.
The decision to make these changes was not unanimous but was reached by the minimum necessary majority of 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs. All rule changes need at least that two-thirds vote.
A minority of the Premier shareholders – the 20 clubs – feared an early cut-off would leave them vulnerable to ‘attack’ from foreign clubs without the possibility of filling any gaps in their squads.
Manchester United and City, Crystal Palace, Swansea and Watford are believed to have voted against, with Burnley abstaining.
The majority also decided against an option of seeking further discussions with French, German, Italian and Spanish clubs through the European Professional Football Leagues.
Premier League ceo Richard Scudamore said: “Even those who voted in favour understood the potential risk but even that is a controlled risk: clubs have the ability to say No [to offers].”
Several high-profile examples of the confusion caused by the overlap were evident this past month. The current Premier season began on Friday, August 11, which left a further 20 days before the transfer window snapped shut on the night of August 31 (and Spain shut up shop a day later on September 1).
Dealing continued right up until the last minute and even beyond it. For example Leicester City have appealed against the rejection of their signing of Portugal’s Adrien Silva because it was registered 14 seconds after the window closed.
More obvious examples concerned Arsenal where manager Arsene Wenger had to launch the new campaign uncertain whether Alexis Sanchez and/or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and/or Shkodran Mustafi would be staying or going.
In the event The Ox was happy to be sold to Liverpool, an angry Sanchez stayed because Arsenal could not persuade Monaco to sell Thomas Lemar as replacement and Mustafi remained because the Gunners could not agree loan terms with Internazionale.
Liverpool also had to suffer continued pressure from Barcelona concerning playmaker Philippe Coutinho. He and a number of other players were absent, reportedly “ill” or “injured” while their future hung in the balance.
The concept of transfer windows has always been controversial in the English game. Unlike most of the rest of Europe, they were unknown in British football until after the worldwide enforcement by FIFA following negotiations with the European Commission after the Bosman Verdict in December 1995.
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Swansea’s Paul Clement and West Bromwich’s Tony Pulis have been among managers critical of the window’s overlap into the season.
Klopp had said: “In general, it makes sense that when the season starts that the planning is over. It’s good to be with the whole team in pre-season training.”
Clement and Klopp came to the Premier League from Germany where a recent survey showed a majority of Bundesliga coaches would approve a pre-season cut-off in dealing.