KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: The January transfer window reaches a panic-strewn conclusion tonight with UEFA president Michel Platini frowning on the entire process.
As clubs, in western Europe in particular, shuffled their playing packs in their contrasting attempts to win trophies or avoid relegation, so the reason for the formalisation of the window was lost in the rush.
Platini said: “It’s unacceptable that, during the same championship, a player can play for Club A against Club B and then, a few months later, play for Club B against Club A. Generally, I think the winter transfer market undermines the credibility of the league championships.”
A number of Premier League managers, including Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger and West Ham’s Sam Allardyce, have long been sceptics about the value of the window. Wenger has suggested that, at the least, clubs should be restricted to a maximum of two signings.
The British game was, traditionally, the only one in Europe which allowed transfers at any time during the season. All other mainstream countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain – restricted all main transfers to the summer with a window reopening only briefly during the season to resolve anomalies or personal issues or conflicts between, say, a player and a manager.
However, everything changed in negotiations between FIFA and the European Commission after the Bosman verdict of 1995 which threatened a destructively chaotic transfer and contract free-for-all.
To maintain the essential stability of competition it was agreed, for the first time, to formalise the transfer window dates – including the use of all of January.
This was the most appropriate month partly because it marked a midway point in the western European season, partly because most countries undertook a midwinter break and partly because this was the close-season for countries which run a spring-to-autumn season.
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