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Transfer window likely to close earlier


It looks likely that Premier League clubs will vote by the necessary two-thirds majority to bring the transfer window forward by two to three weeks to the start of the season.  They meet on September 7th when 14 clubs have to vote in favour of the move.  

The change would come into effect before the start of the 2018-19 season.  The transfer window in January would be unaffected.

Many chairmen and managers think that the uncertainty caused by the window still being open for the first three weeks of the season can cause disruption to squads and plans.  It would still be necessary to allow players to be sold, as is required under Fifa's transfer rules.

There is a concern that a shorter transfer window could put the top clubs at a competitive disadvantage compared with their rivals if clubs such as Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain had a longer period to bring in players.

However, it is believed that Manchester United are open minded about the idea and others among the top six clubs will arrive at the meeting either in favour or without a firm position on the issue.  Most of the smaller clubs are in favour with the exception of one.

The chairman of a middle-rankiing club told The Times, 'I think it is a red herring to say there is a problem if we are not aligned with other leagues in Europe, because there are already other countries which have different transfer windows.'  Different windows also operate in Russia, China and in the United States.

One potential drawback would be a Premier League club losing a top player to a European rival without being in a position to replace him.

There are those who think that the transfer window should be scrapped altogether.  It was introduced in 2002-03 as part of a compromise agreement between Fifa and the European Commission after a dispute about the applicability of EU competition rules which was then kept out of the courts.   These rules would, of course, not apply to the UK after Brexit.

However, I think that there is an argument for a transfer window even if it does induce frenetic activity and push up prices.  At least it gives a period of calm when it is harder, although admittedly not impossible, to unsettle players.   Players are, of course, capable of unsettling themselves and going into a sulk as the example of Diego Costa shows.

Football agents have opposed the move.   They argue that prices could be driven even higher.  Clubs would be under greater pressure to get their deals done earlier.  At the moment, they have several weeks to plug any gaps once the season has started. 

Agents think that smaller clubs are behind the change.  Sam Winstanley wrote in The Times, 'They don't want to be faced with the difficult situation of having a bid they can't refuse for their best players from the big boys, with no time to replace them.'