Those of you who regularly suffer my weekly wittering here will already know that I don’t like the concept of a ‘transfer window’.
In truth, ‘don’t like’ is a little bit tame a description as far as I’m concerned, but this is a family site so we’ll leave it there for now.
The whole circus puts me in mind of someone working in an office for a large organisation; let’s call them We Do Things With Money PLC. They’ve been there since they left school with a few decent A-levels and have steadily worked their way up to a junior managerial position within the company.
This has come to the attention of Money ‘R’ Us, a small but up and coming new business who have been made aware of ‘X’ at We Do Things With Money PLC and want them to come on board with the intention of working directly under the manager of their Brown Envelopes Division.
It’s a promotion, a wage rise and too good an opportunity for ‘X’ to turn down.
But wait a minute. Silly old Money ‘R’ Us. It’s mid-February. ‘X’ is not entitled to move to a new job with a new company until the beginning of the following June. It’s the ‘job window’ you see, it slammed shut a couple of weeks ago or so earlier, which means ‘X’ has to stay put.
And even if ‘X’ had changed jobs, had moved, a few weeks earlier from We Do Things With Money PLC to Money ‘R’ Us before, a few months later, getting an unbelievable offer from Dosh Limited, he or she wouldn’t be able to take them up on it.
Because you’re not allowed to work for more than two companies in a year.
Never mind that ‘X wants to leave, Money ‘R’ Us want ‘X’ onboard and that We Do Things With Money PLC have already sounded out a young up and coming person who does things with money to slot into the vacancy ‘X’ has left behind.
It’s no can do all round I’m afraid. Because people can only move jobs at any two given times of the year as laid down into law by HM Government.
Unless, of course, you are unemployed, in which case you can step into a new position at any time. Either that or you’re, shall we say, quite good at what you do with money, but a bit raw around the edges, in which case a company like We Do Things With Money PLC can lend you to a smaller company, say Tiny Little Village Savings Ltd for no more than 90 days in order for you to get a bit more experience.
What a bureaucratic nightmare. And, what’s more, what a flagrant breach of everyone’s fundamental right to change their job at whatever time they choose and for whatever reason they care to give – or, indeed, not give.
One which we all take for granted and have, almost certainly wielded, more than once, in our own careers. I certainly have. Back in days of yore (if only) when I lived in London, I changed jobs with alarming frequency. It was a high risk strategy but that was how it was at the time. If I got bored, if I didn’t like my boss, if the hassle on the Northern Line from Morden at 6:30am every day was too much, then bang, I was gone.
Footballers can’t do that.
Having a transfer window in place makes me see UEFA, FIFA and all the other pigs with their snouts in the trough in game in the image of old fashioned Victorian industrialists.
You were tied to the job – almost literally. You worked in their factories, lived in their homes and attended their shops and churches. And if you didn’t like what they bloody well said then it didn’t matter because you still had to do what you were bloody told.
OK, now that is an exaggeration. I’m not, for one moment, suggesting, as Ronaldo famously hissy fitted a few years ago, that footballers are slaves.
Indeed, if they are, then give me the ball, chain and bread and cheese rations and give it to me now.
But I’m sorry, the whole concept of the transfer window is ridiculous.
Who, exactly, does it benefit?
The current transfer windows were introduced as part of a compromise agreement with the European Commission about how the whole transfer system worked and how it could best preserve contractual stability for both the player and the club while allowing movement at prescribed times during the year – the summer and winter transfer windows in effect.
The alternative was to bring football in line with most other industries where contracts were not enforceable or liable for appropriate compensation, (IE Notice periods being served and players moving at will). The football authorities across Europe felt this would fatally undermine the footballing economy and remove the incentive for clubs to invest in developing players.
Well you know what, UEFA? How about bringing football into line with most other industries. You know, those industries that everyone else has to work in.
A very great many of whom do not only not have any sort of contract at all, or, if they do (and hands up who has been a ‘temp’ at some point in the past) it’s a week to week, or even day to day one. Or, in these days of zero hours, they don’t have one at all.
What does UEFA et al think might happen if they scrap the transfer window entirely and give professional footballers the same courtesy to have freedom of movement, to swap jobs whenever they please, as everyone else?
Their ‘defence’ for the upholding of the window (their words, not mine) is that it would prevent players “moving at will”.
What are they frightened of exactly? Vast herds of migrating footballers, snuffling, grunting, sweating and farting their way across the vast plains of Europe, an excited camera crew, accompanied by David Attenborough tracking their every move. And particularly those moments when, and “…oh, it’s so sad, but hey, it’s nature”, one of the older members of the herd gets left behind so alone and frightened, it hangs up its boots, waiting for the inevitable end as groups of watching TV executives pounce, waiting to drag them off to a slow and embarrassing death in front of the Match Of The Day cameras?
No, I don’t think that would happen either.
In fact I think the abolition of the transfer window would improve some aspects of the game.
One other benefit of it is that it is supposed, ha, to prevent clubs from ‘stockpiling’ players, that is, getting the best of the best in as and when they feel like it.
But they do that already. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, I’ll do so again. Manchester City. They stockpile players like a Star Wars nerd stockpiles action figures. And, more often than not, Manchester City never bother to open the box either.
Take their signing of Patrick Roberts who they bought from Fulham last year for a fee widely quoted as being around £20 million.
Less than a year later and after just one appearance, as a sub in a League Cup game, Roberts has been sent off to Celtic on loan.
For eighteen months.
Now I’m sorry, but an eighteen-month loan? That is beyond ridiculous. It makes a nonsense of their ever signing him in the first place. What was the point of it, exactly?
Do I hear they signed him to prevent someone, anyone else from doing so, at the back?
Yes, I’ll go along with that. Plus, of course, if he’s playing for Celtic, he can’t do them any collateral damage either. Because even if the two clubs are drawn in the same Champions League group next season, Roberts won’t be allowed to play in those two games.
Which is also ridiculous. If he is so far away from their first-team as to be not only deemed surplus to any sort of requirement for eighteen months, then what do they think he might do for Celtic if they play each other? Score a hat-trick against them?
If this and similar deals isn’t evidence of a club ‘stockpiling’ a player, one of the very things the introduction of a transfer window was meant to prevent, then I don’t know what is.
There are other equally insane examples of stockpiled players being sent out on loan because greedy parent clubs don’t know what to do with them.
I was half-watching Watford v Chelsea on Wednesday night and am sure I heard the commentator say one of the Hornets’ players had been on loan to a Spanish club side for six seasons.
Hopefully I misheard him or was half-asleep.
But there are others. Look at Ryan Bertrand. He spent two, mostly impressive, spells with us on loan in 2008 and 2009.
The Canaries were one of seven different clubs he played for on loan from Chelsea between 2006 and 2015. Nearly a decade, during which time he made just 28 league appearances for Chelsea.
Mind you, he did win a Champions League medal for them during his time at the club. It’s a pity, really, he didn’t eke out his time there for one more season before he eventually signed a permanent deal with Southampton, as he would have then have been entitled, at some point this year, to a testimonial.
I think back to some of the players we’ve had on loan at Norwich in recent years and how things might have been had we been able to sign them all permanently.
How about going into this season with Fraser Forster in goal, plus Kyle Naughton and Bertrand (or Kieran Gibbs) in the two full back positions? Ritchie de Laet would be another option in defence whilst we could have Henri Lansbury on the right of midfield and Harry Kane in attack.
Not too shabby I think you’ll agree?
Forster is a class act; I reckon Southampton will have a hell of a job over the next couple of years or so holding on to him. I doubt we ever had a realistic chance of signing him permanently. Paul Lambert certainly wanted to but at the costs Newcastle were quoting, even for another loan, that was never going to happen.
You do wonder if John Ruddy ever totally chased away the shadow of Forster that was hanging over him when he joined the club.
Our latest loan signing is, like Bertrand, a up and coming hopeful from Chelsea.
Patrick Bamford has already, at 22, seen the footballing world. We’re his seventh club in a senior career that hasn’t yet amassed five years in total, during which time he yet to appear for Chelsea in any senior match of any description.
Nope, not even an 89th minute appearance in a League Cup game in September. So Gary Roberts has, at least, got that on him.
I hope he does well for us. I really and fervently wish that he does. I hope he scores at least ten goals between now and the end of the season, leading to calls from anyone and everyone in a yellow and green hue for us to sign him in the summer.
Only for Chelsea to quote an asking price of £25 million.
Before they send him out on another season’s loan. Only this time it’s with Bournemouth to “continue his footballing education”.
Yes, of course it is. Everyone believes you. Unless you add the caveat that makes it to “continue his footballing education until someone pays us the asking price”.
That would be more representative of the truth. It’s what they did, eventually, with Ryan Bertrand.
Something which, finally, I hope is something we do not do ourselves with respect to James Maddison, our recent signing from Coventry City who was promptly sent back there as soon as we signed him on Monday night.
You’d like to think we’re not the sort of club that does, or, indeed, even needs to ‘stockpile’ players.
Yet, like Chelsea did with Bertrand and are, currently, with Bamford (IE Waiting on some sort of return for their initial investment) we find ourselves doing just that with the likes of Conor McGrandles and Louis Thompson, both of whom are now back at their original clubs on loan whilst we, it seems, wait to decide what we are going to do with them.
I hope that isn’t the case with Maddison. Indeed, I hope that, by this time next year, he has made his first-team debut for us and is already considered to be a valuable player. And yes, if that means the likes of Tottenham are taking a renewed interest in him, so much the better.
You’d just hope, for his sake, that, if it comes to that, he isn’t tempted by Chelsea’s millions.
Because he needs to play football, not be hawked around the country like some kind of fancy trinket sent out for the masses to see by benevolent owners. He and all of his peers.
Will scrapping the transfer window give them more of an opportunity to do so? In all honesty, probably not.
But it might be good to see if football could be given the opportunity to see if it could manage without the transfer window for a couple of seasons or so.
You never know. It might just work out.