On August 31st, the Premier League summer 2012 transfer window will slam shut. If this year is typical, then the last day will be full of rumours, half truths, outright lies, sightings of Kaka at Craven Cottage and a few truly jaw dropping signings. Sadly Harry Redknapp, king of the the last day deal, is without a job (though there are nine days left—you never know), so it might be a bit quieter.
Since it was introduced in England in 2002, the window has brought in a twice yearly flurry of excitement, and the opportunity for endless streams of journalistic rumour spreading. The question I have to ask though is: “What’s the point of it?”
The best argument I can find for its introduction is that it was already in existence in a number of European countries—so FIFA, UEFA and the FA thought, or finally accepted, that it was worth synchronising. If most other European leagues have it, I can understand it being brought into the UK, but then the question just becomes, “what’s the point of it in any league?”
There is a suggestion that if clubs were able to buy and sell players whenever they wanted that big clubs would do just that, and smaller clubs would lose out and reserve/youth players would never get a look in. There is a counter argument that this is exactly what is happening anyway. I have a feeling that clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United, who bring young players through, would continue to do so, while Chelsea & Manchester City would continue to hoover up far too many first team players—letting them fester on the bench.
It seems to me that the transfer window encourages two very negative points. The first is that players (or their agents) can use the impending deadline to sow discord and manoeuvre a lucrative move.
Fearful of being stuck with an unhappy and unproductive player for six months, the club decides to cut their losses and take what they can get (Clint Dempsey or Luka Modric). The second is that the deadline can be used to push sale prices up if a club doesn’t have to sell.
Arguably this influence could benefit a small club in getting as much as possible, but the big clubs don’t really care as long as they get their way and to be honest, £12m for Stephen Fletcher is a coup for Wolves, but it’s got to be bad for football in general.