It’s the kind of comment that would have Sky Sports Jim White spinning in his grave but… IT’S TIME TO SCRAP THE JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW.
Don’t get me wrong. I too was once deeply in love with ‘Transfer Deadline Day’. I even once booked the day off work to spend a very magical 24 hours with nothing but Sky Sports News, a few mugs of tea, a packet of Hob-Nobs and an unreasonable level of expectation for company. It’s just that, well, as the years have gone by, like an old married couple who now sleep in separate beds, the magic has gone.
Maybe it’s a sense of jealousy. As the supporter of a club more likely to part with its finest assets that splash out on a South American wonder-kid, the emotion of hope on deadline day seems more focused around who won’t go rather than who might arrive but I can’t help thinking it’s something more.
Sure, some of the magic has gone. I sat and watched yesterday as Sky Sports News tried to con us into thinking that Robbie Brady’s move to Burnley was the most exciting deal this century and it just felt like something was missing. Where was Harry Redknapp giving an interview out of a car window like a dog on the motorway? Where was the reported outside a clubs training ground getting attacked by a sex toy? Where was Peter Odemwinge driving halfway across the UK to complete a non-existent transfer? More importantly… where was the excitement? There wasn’t any, and no amount of mobile phones and yellow ties can fix that.
However, the bigger issue is that the January Window contributes to the monopoly of “big” teams in the Premier League and prevents our game being truly competitive.
The current system massively favours clubs who have money. Teams like Hull City can only sit and watch as their best players are picked off. Whilst teams around them, providing they have the cash, can essentially buy points for the latter half of the season. Imagine for a moment that a club had to stick with its’ squad, and even its manager, for a whole season. There would be no quick-fix January buys. No splashing the cash on Jermain Defoe to secure Premier League survival. No budget busking panic buys that risk the financial future of your football club. If they had been the rules last season then Chelsea could well have been a Championship Club by now rather than Premier League title favourites. It would open up the chance for anyone to go down and anyone to win the league.
Consider other aspects too. Dimitri Payet would have never thrown his toys out the pram and refused to do his job for West Ham ever again if there hadn’t been a post-Christmas escape hatch. He would have been forced to go through the torturous hardship of kicking a leather ball around in East London for another four months. The poor soul.
Managers would be given more of a chance too. Without the pressure of making a change before the dreaded window the likes of Alan Pardew and Mike Phelan would probably still have a gig (your views on that being a good or bad thing will relate directly to your views on over-arrogant displays of disco dancing on the touchline during the FA Cup final). I’d love to see managers given a chance to ‘turn things around’ and use their coaching ability and guile to save a season rather than either getting the sack or dipping into a transfer kitty as we see with the current system.
Like any big changes in football this is, of course, a pipe dream. The vested interest is in keeping things just how they are. Sky Sports News have done a great job in selling us the idea of the transfer window being a football fans Eastenders’ omnibus. Tabloid newspapers would be lost without the opportunity to fill their pages with endless transfer rumours and speculation. Most importantly, the current system benefits the big clubs. The clubs with money. The clubs with success. When the going gets tough, they can dip into their infinite pockets and buy a few of those all-important league points. As for the perennial bottom half teams it’s more a case of when the going gets tough, tough.
Jim is the host of On The Left Side, the Alternative Football Show.