On 31 August 2002, for the first time in English football history, the summer transfer window closed.
It’s fair to say that it didn’t ‘slam shut’ as it often does these days, there was no late scrambles to get deals across the line, sometimes succeeding (Ashley Cole from Arsenal to Chelsea in 2006) and sometimes not (David De Gea Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2015), it was more of a subtle shutting, like a set of newly fitted sliding windows.
Clubs had to settle with their current squads until the next window opened in January.
The FIFA rules state that the pre-season window shall last no more than 12 weeks, and the mid-season window no more than four. The window was initially introduced after discussions between the FA and the European Commission, to improve stability for players and clubs, and at the same time bringing about a fair competition.
An alternative measure also discussed, which was to bring football in line with ‘normal’ jobs. This would mean that contracts were not enforceable or transferable for appropriate compensation. Broadly meaning that notice periods could be issued and players moving at will.
Can you imagine the scenes if your star player handed their months’ notice in after a bad game and went to your biggest rivals for no fee – unsurprisingly this idea never took off.
With spending in this transfer window topping an eye-watering £1 billion, is the transfer window a good thing for football or not? It’s fair to say it gets mixed reviews.
Deadline day offers abundant excitement to football fans, with speculation rife about your club securing that long-term target, after months of chasing.
Who doesn’t enjoy the rumours floating round the pubs and social media ‘my uncle’s mate’s boss saw Lionel Messi get into a taxi at Manchester Airport’ or ‘there are reports of Cristiano Ronaldo drinking a chai-tea latte at a service station on the northbound section of the M6’.
The media coverage of the transfer deadline day has also significant changed since 2002, no deadline day worth its salt wouldn’t been seen without a Sky Sports News reporter clad in a golden tie screaming about the latest deal these days.
It’s a shame the wonderful scenes of a SSN reporter outside a stadium, surrounded by a plethora of half-cut fans late into the evening are no longer. Aforementioned half-cut fans went a prank too far a couple of seasons ago – prompting the SSN reporters to the safe haven of the office corridors.
Highlights of deadline day include Harry Redknapp’s guaranteed interview from the window of his car, Peter Odemwingie being turned away from QPR’s training ground after trying to force a move from West Brom and Ross McCormack when still at Leeds United, calling up Sky Sports News TWICE; once to affirm his love for the club and the second to say he’s considering his options amidst interest from Cardiff City (with Leeds’ new owner Massimo Cellino apparently sacking Brian McDermott in the middle).
Fun and excitement aside, the transfer window does allow clubs and players some stability for half a season at a time.
There are of course well-spoken critics of the transfer window, primarily that it forces clubs with poor starts into panic buying, scared of relegation and the financial implications that come with plying your trade away from footballs top table.
It also opens clubs up to the risk that they could be left short until January if a key player picks up an injury and they are faced with round pegs into square holes.
Arsène Wenger has gripes with the January window and particularly how this compares to the fixture list, this was emphasised after Juan Mata moved to Manchester United from Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in January 2014.
Both clubs had played each other twice, and Wenger claimed this gave both clubs an incentive. But it’s not the first time Wenger has aired his sense of injustice when Mourinho is involved.
Love it or hate it, the transfer window is here to stay, complete with all the glitz and glamour of Jim White’s golden tie that surrounds it.