Curtains for the window

January 1, 2000

Ken Masters’

Web Watch

It is the evening of Monday 31st January and I am clicking madly on all of the relevant web sites to find the latest news of last minute transfer and loan deals.

It seemed to me to be a slow start to the final day of the transfer window, but with plenty of deals in the pipeline late on.

The first deal of the day saw Sunderland sell defender Paulo da Silva to Spanish side Real Zaragoza for an undisclosed fee. I don’t really know why this one caught my eye when tracking The Premier League web site but here it is, Wolves sign goalkeeper Adriano Basso on a short term contract until the end of the season. Another early one saw Ollie secure Sunderland winger Andy Reid as he moved to Blackpool for an undisclosed fee. I always thought Obafemi Martens was a decent player at Newcastle United and he is back in England as a Birmingham City player.

As the day went on I wondered what the window is really all about and j whether it is good for the game or not. FIFA certainly seem to think so, but support in this country is not so strong. I suspect that the lower league clubs have never been in favour and hence the emergency loan deals that will kick in just one week after the window slams shut.

According to the boss of the League Managers Association English football, or British football more generally, wants to do away with the January transfer window. An interview by the BBC’s Natalie Jackson with the LMA chief Richard Bevan was reported on j the Corporations website before going out on the Midlands version of ‘Late Kick Off.’

“It doesn’t do what it was looking to when it came in,” LMA chief Richard Bevan told the show. “It doesn’t create stability, it doesn’t create a level playing field, and certainly in the Football League they are very keen the domestic window is removed.” Bevan added: “Key stakeholders in the game – the Premier League, Football Association, Football League, the FA the LMA and the PFA – would like to see it scrapped.”

Appointed LMA chief executive in 2008, Bevan has consistently campaigned for English football to adopt a longer term strategy in the way bosses are treated and recently called on super rich club owners to stop ‘scapeqoating’ them. Bevan believes the transfer window has become a tipping point in the season during when under fire managers are usually removed by chairman. Roy Hodgson at Liverpool and Roy Keane at Ipswich are two of the more high profile managers to have lost their jobs this month, while speculation has surrounded the futures of Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and his West Ham counterpart Avram Grant.

“I’m sure you’ll find chairman who will say the transfer window was a final nail in the coffin of some decisions that they had to make in terms of sacking managers or coaches,” Bevan continued. Strong words from the LMA then, and for the managers and coaches in the English game it would be curtains for the window by this account. From another point of view I am tracking as I write, and noting the fees being banned about for Fernando Torres to Chelsea and Andy Carroll to Liverpool. It serves to support my own long term view that the widow does not do much more than inflate transfer fees even more by what could be termed as panic buying.

Interestingly Bevan agrees; he pointed out that clubs often pay a premium for players picked up in the winter transfer window. This January, Manchester City have paid a reported £27m for Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko, a player who cost Wolfsburg £4m in 2007, while Liverpool spent £23m on striker Luis Suarez, who cost Ajax £6.4m three years ago; and so it goes on.

With five hours to the close of the window, there were still some major deals in the offing amid speculation of the British transfer record being broken – possibly twice. With half an hour to go there are unconfirmed reports that that possibility has become a reality. Fifty and thirty five million pounds respectively are huge sums of money and massive risks. I just can’t help thinking that the latest British transfer record would build Bristol Rovers the stadium that we are all aching for and one that would serve our community for generations to come; unreal.

Notwithstanding all this the LMA chief executive has conceded that English football might have a tough job trying to persuade FIFA president Joseph Blatter to get rid of the window.

“FIFA are in a position where they’ve got one man making key decisions, and where you have an organisation that can have such an impact on the communities and business of sport, then that is not good governance at all – and it needs to change,” Bevan stated. Very strong words indeed but I suspect there are other prominent individuals around the game in this country, and further afield, who hold the same view.





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