The English Transfer Window”, utter these words to any person in the UK and I’m fairly confident they would know what you were talking about. Since being introduced into the English game in the 2001/02 season, the transfer window has revolutionised player movement between clubs. The amount of time that clubs have to sign players was reduced from around 10 months to 4 months split between the close-season/new season period (June to end of August) and the month of January. This had led to the transfer window in itself is becoming a spectator sport, with clocks counting the number of minutes left in the window and rolling summaries of all the gossip at regular intervals.
Much of the talk throughout the whole of August was about whether Cesc Fabregas would move from Arsenal to Barcelona – he did - and whether Samir Nasri would move from Arsenal to Manchester City – he did. But how much affect will these protracted moves have had on the players and staff at Arsenal? Everyday up to both players moves, there was TV coverage and newspaper stories run on whether each player would move and for how much money. For Arsenal fans and players it must have been very distracting to turn on the radio in the morning and hear even more stories of your clubs players being linked with moves away.
Since the introduction of the transfer window, the price of transfer fees has increased dramatically. Chairmen such as Roman Abramovich and the Abu Dhabi group at Manchester City have been prepared to throw millions of pounds into their football club to attempt to buy success. Even this season, Liverpool FC has thrown plenty of money around trying to create a team that can be competitive towards the top of the Premiership. £35m spent on Andy Carroll and £18m spent on Jordan Henderson, two young players who still have a lot to prove in their careers. Plenty of big clubs around Europe were linked with huge bids for various players throughout the transfer window and I’m sure this will again be the case in January.
For me, the transfer window wasn’t spent worrying if my club would spend x million pounds on a player, it was spent worrying whether our star striker would be sold. I an Oxford United fan and welcome to the mind-set of a lower league football fan. There’s never really any “big money” moves in the lower divisions. A player may sometimes move up a couple of leagues for a fee in the low hundreds of thousands, Adam Le Fondre (Rotherham to Reading) for example, but in the main it is free transfers and loans that dominate this transfer market. I feel the transfer window has had a negative impact on the lower leagues, clubs cannot now sign players at any time during the season, they have to get their business done in the set parameters as described earlier. So these clubs focus on the loan market where the window is open until March – often using the term “loan with a view to a permanent transfer” as a way of getting around the transfer window. ‘Emergency’ loans, originally designed in case of an injury crisis, take place when there appears to be no emergency whatsoever.
The transfer window may supply Sky Sports and the BBC with some fantastic viewing figures for their news updates but for me it has changed the way the English game works.