Early deadline day: A risky first step

Transfer Window

When it was first made public that the Premier League was contemplating to make the window close before the start of the season I didn’t really understand the reasoning behind and when the clubs cast their votes with 14 approving and 5 (both Manchester clubs, Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Watford FC) opposing the change (the Burnley chairman failed to show up) I still didn’t really understand why. Thinking about it a bit more made me understand the point of it but there is still a risk which is why the vote that required a ⅔ majority ended up being a narrow one.

The Premier League is the first league to implement a rule like that and like many pioneers have experienced, being the first with something is always risky. In this case the risk is closing the transfer window much earlier than everyone else is. It means that a club with a big pull like Barcelona or Juventus can still sign your players after your deadline ended leaving you with no chance to sign a replacement. Right now this is only the case with outgoing transfers to Turkey and it was the case with transfers to Russia in the past and in winter it’s the case with China.

The Coutinho case has shown that this can also be an actual problem for the Top 6 clubs but the reasons why the Manchester clubs – who in this season both did their business before the season started – voted ‘No’ on this. With this change the top 6 clubs can’t unsettle players for a prolonged period of time until end up signing them. It also makes selling deadwood a lot harder because clubs outside of the Premier League are unlikely to pay the prices that Premier League are able to pay for mediocre players meaning that the club would have to sit on players with inflated values or sell them to clubs who are going to pay less than their value on the Premier League market.

One of the the reasons that clubs voted for the proposal is much increased clarity. Clubs can plan with the players they have when the season starts and don’t have to wait for important players to finally being allowed to leave their current club and it means that an approach on a player and all the preparation has to be done three weeks earlier meaning that clubs like Tottenham will not get away with doing minimal scouting and then just signing a bunch of players late in the window. In the time clubs get used to it this could also lead to more risks being taken due to the limited amount of time.

The main thing this needs to work is other leagues to join. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin does not seem opposed: “I am aware there are serious discussions around Europe regarding the shortening of the summer transfer window and we are following them closely.” The Bundesliga is also holding talks regarding this subject but opinions seem to be divided right now so it’s unlikely that the German top flight will join the English one as early next season. When all the other leagues follow the Premier League’s suit there is going to be a lot more clarity and most importantly we can just focus on the football once the season starts. The only remaining problem would be different starting dates of different leagues leading to different deadline days but this seems to be one that is easy to solve.