The Times in England released a report claiming that many of the Premier League’s elite clubs are having second thoughts about the current summer transfer window structure. Martyn Ziegler, the Times’s Chief Sports Reporter, stated that Premier League chairmen as well as chief executives will meet to discuss the reversal of the early end to the transfer window, which would result in the transfer window returning on schedule with other major European leagues. Although the Premier League may be at a slight disadvantage when it comes to transfer negotiations, there is no need to revert back to the anarchy that was the old system.
Ziegler reported that,
“Liverpool had voted in favor of the early closure, but it is understood they will join the two Manchester clubs, among others, in pushing strongly for a return to the original timeline and to have the same window as the other major countries in Europe.”
The argument spear-headed by the major Premier League clubs revolves around their decreased bargaining power. European leagues such as the German Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, and France’s Ligue 1 wrapped up their summer transfer business on September 2. That is almost a full month after the end of the Premier League transfer window. England’s clubs were unable to purchase players after the August 8 deadline, which arguably gave the other European clubs an upper hand in forcing top English sides to sell players on the cheap after their deadline and purchase players at a premium prior to August 8. European clubs essentially had the ability to employ a wait and see attitude with English clubs knowing that they had another three weeks to buy and sell players.
Premier League clubs spent an average of £13,928,556 on each player during the 2019 summer transfer window. When the window was last in line with other European leagues in 2017, English club’s spent an average of £12,034,437. The Premier League had a 2017 transfer balance of £-749,380,000 compared to Serie A’s £-135,020,000, which held the second worst expenditure total. 2019 was not vastly different in the Premier League with a transfer balance of £-731,500,000 compared to La Liga’s second worst expenditure total leading to a £-292,900,000 transfer balance. There will certainly be some discrepancy between leagues year over year due to the selling of high profile players, but one thing remains constant. The Premier League vastly outspends other leagues while recouping little through player sales.
There is little reason to believe that the current posturing of Premier League clubs is solely down to the end of the transfer window. Ever since the Premier League clubs began receiving the injection of money from the lucrative TV deals, clubs have spent above market value for players both domestic and abroad. For example, Paul Pogba’s market value at the time of his 2016 transfer to Manchester United was £63 million. Juventus sold him for £90 million.
The Premier League’s schedule may be another component influencing chief executives’ desire to fall back in line with the European transfer window. The Premier League started its season on August 9 compared to the German Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga that began on August 16 and 17, respectively. Serie A started action even later on August 24. Ligue 1 is the only other major league to start on the same weekend as the Premier League. This discrepancy in start dates affords a majority of European clubs at least another week to introduce new signings into the club and worry less about panic purchases, although such transfers are always inevitable.
The two week break following the close of the European transfer window seems like a good opportunity for new players to acclimatize to their new home, but a vast majority of high profile players will be on international duty. Under the old transfer window schedule, a portion of new Premier league players might not see consistent action, or at least grow accustomed to the change in pace and style of England’s league, until the end of September when at least six games would have been played. Ending the summer transfer window prior the start of a season mitigates the player’s adjustment and ensures that Premier League teams are theoretically playing at full strength sooner.
The winter transfer window has been viewed by some managers as a distraction for clubs that should otherwise be focused on the actual game. This same impact can be felt while clubs are starting a new season with insistent speculation and rumors occupying both the media and the players. As seen in the case of Christian Eriksen’s persistent rumors concerning his future, which was often the first point of discussion regarding Tottenham.
Eriksen’s situation not only affected Mauricio Pochettino’s tactical strategies, but also appeared to have caused some dysfunction in the locker room. Four games into the 2019/20 season Eriksen was still hoping for a move away, which ultimately failed to materialize. Oddly enough, Pochettino is in favor of returning back to a later transfer window stating,
“I hope that we fix the problem for the next season. I think the Premier League cannot give this advantage to the European clubs.”
There is a very sound reason for Premier League clubs to make the switch back to a universal transfer window. A disgruntled player’s desire to depart following the end of the English transfer window does not allow that club to sign a replacement. It simply means that a team is now one player short. This could result in a disappointed and unmotivated player staying on team he wants to move on from.
Yet, this scenario does not necessarily change if the transfer window was moved back. Alexis Sanchez was almost on the move to Manchester City in the dying hours of the transfer window in 2017. Arsenal did not find a replacement for him and thus kept a player who’s heart was set on leaving. Quite simply, no matter when the transfer window ends clubs will always wait till the last minute to attempt some of the most important moves, which is why there is an entire occasion built around Transfer Deadline Day.
The difficult solution for Premier League clubs would to avoid succumbing to the reversal of what is a logical strategy. Instead, using the power and influence of the league it should be constantly working with the European clubs to adjust their own summer transfer windows. It could be argued that even if one major league such as La Liga were to adjust its transfer window it would result in the remaining leagues eventually following suit. Unfortunately, after two years of trying England was unable to convince even one major country to join. The current landscape only points towards how the influence of business of the pitch has overtaken the importance of the sport itself.
In all likelihood, the Premier League will return to a late August early September deadline. Englands top clubs simply do not have the patience for the European leagues to make a move, and with only a simple majority required for the switch it should be easily achieved. The inevitable end of the early summer deadline will be viewed as a failed experiment. Since no other league joined England’s switch in the first place, however, it was never an experiment in the first place. Unfortunately, it will now return to a process that only causes disruption and chaos.