OK, enough is enough. It’s archaic. Surely it’s about time those involved were treated with some dignity and compassion.
I’m talking about professional footballers and the ridiculous August transfer window, of course.
Scoff you might, but this time of the year really can be a living nightmare for players, especially those who might be unaware that they aren’t flavour of the month. You’ve just spent the last two months sweating buckets to impress the gaffer, it’s a fresh start and you’re optimistic about the season ahead, the family are happy and settled, the kids have made some lovely friends and then boom, your agent calls to tell you the club want to flog you to a club 300 miles away.
“What if I don’t want to go?”
“You’ll be frozen out until January.”
That’s part and parcel of life as a footballer I hear you say, and you’re absolutely correct. Players are, and always will be pawns in the game but why wait until we’re three or four games into the season before tearing your squads (and some of their families) apart? It makes no sense whatsoever.
The transfer windows must stay. That’s not in question. They protect players and clubs from week-to-week pillaging and add structure to a seriously destabilising profession but what’s to stop the summer window closing on August 1 instead of September 1?
It would surely suit both the clubs and the players to get the messy wheeling and dealing out of the way early doors.
For the players who find themselves unwittingly moved on, the pain of a reluctant exit won’t subside completely but it’s a more comfortable transition to make when you still have a fortnight or so to get to know your new team-mates and staff, find a place to live, sort out a new school, suss out the closest nightclub etc. Having to do all that while the real, high-pressure matches are coming thick and fast isn’t helpful to anyone.
Those players that want to leave for bigger and better things, or simply to play first team football would also welcome the chance to bed in before the big kick off. If you want out, the sooner it happens the better, and even if the transactions are left until the last minute (they always are) if it’s late in the evening of July 31 what’s the big deal? You’ve saved yourself four weeks of needless uncertainty.
A change would also benefit managers too. Rebels like Clint Dempsey and Luka Modric wouldn’t have been able to go on strike for starters. If they miss the pre-season tour it’s no big deal because one way or another they'll either have gone, or committed themselves to the club by August 1.
The start to every new season should be the most exciting, optimism-filled period of the entire year. This is us. This is our team. Let’s make this season the season we’ve all dreamed of.
As it stands August is just creepy. It’s weird and unsettling not to know if the team you’re fighting so hard to win matches for, will be the same side you’re representing a few days later.
Who’s here for the long haul? Who’s about to jump ship? Crikey, what if the gaffer signs someone in my position? The usual dressing room banter exists but there’s an unspoken under current of fear as self-preservation comes to the fore.
In the old days when the windows were first invented and English football wanted no part of it, the Spanish and Italian clubs were still in the throes of pre-season at this time of the year so it made sense to close it on August 31. Nowadays, most European leagues kick off around the same period – and it’s before the schools go back.
I can’t think of a single reason why it wouldn’t be best for everyone if the transfer window opens on June 1 and closes on August 1.
All it needs is a common sense approach. And therein lies the problem…
Read more fascinating insight from former Arsenal midfielder Adrian Clarke HERE.