MFW regular Alex Bain is on guest blog duties today and has a look at the machinations of the transfer process of yesteryear and how the whole process 2022-style could be improved.
As the transfer window has closed until the early summer, I thought this might be an appropriate time to cast my mind back at how things used to be in the days when social media meant the radio and the evening paper – or what you might learn in the pub.
Not many of our younger supporters will remember the old style of transfers which contained neither windows nor agents. It was just clubs dealing with other clubs and players being able to negotiate for themselves.
Deals were done cloak and dagger style – like the secret service. The chairman of one club would call his counterpart and ask or offer a price for a player he wanted to recruit and then said player would be told a meeting had been arranged for him to discuss terms at some service station (or wherever) halfway between both clubs.
One of the best at getting players to sign for his club was the legendary Spurs manager, Bill Nicholson. He was supposed to have said that the quickest deal he ever completed was the signing of Ralph Coates from Burnley, a player he didn’t really want at the time.
Nicholson called Burnley asking about another player who the club wouldn’t sell but was offered Coates for a similar price so decided to take him on. The initial call was made at 9am, the fee agreed and a meeting agreed for Nicholson and the Spurs chairman to meet the Burnley Chairman and Coates himself at a service station on the M1 later that same day.
While the chairmen negotiated the payment Nicholson and Coates had a brief chat. A deal was agreed and Coates + luggage hopped from one car to another and sped off to London for a medical.
Once this was completed, both clubs announced the deal as done and dusted to their local papers and it was then picked up by the national press with no fuss. Coates did Norwich City no favours in the 1975 League Cup Final of course.
When it comes to Norwich City we had our own master negotiator in John Bond who was ably assisted by Sir Arthur South, who in his own right first helped Sir Geoffrey Watling to lure Ron Saunders away from Oxford with big promises that he should build for promotion.
Saunders knew the lower leagues and purchased fighters that got us to the old Division One but ended up leaving a struggling side for Manchester City and the volatile Peter Swales – who had just sacked Malcolm Allison.
South approached Bournemouth for their flamboyant manager John Bond who took some convincing to put down roots in Norfolk but what success he had by bringing in Tony Powell, Mel Machin and Phil Boyer. Kevin Reeves signed too and all Bournemouth or ex-Bournemouth players that came to NR1 went on to make City a profit. A handsome one in the case of Reeves.
Until the Premier League was established, world football allowed a free and open market from the end of May to March and then it closed until the end of the season. Once the PL took a grip many established, mainly European, clubs claimed they couldn’t have settled teams due to the English clubs buying their star players so the transfer windows were born.
The FA got a bye for a few seasons in that they could still buy, sell and loan players in England for a transition period that came to an end some five years later.
These transfer windows have spawned the superagents who not only work for the players but also get involved with finding players – not just on their own but with other agents to facilitate moves while pushing their clients to other clubs on social media 24/7.
Costs rise in many ways but transfer windows push up the asking price whether it be the summer window or the shorter January window and then the agents slow this down further hoping other clubs will come in late to garner a big percentage from selling and buying clubs.
To my mind, the only way to stop this trend is to:
- Abolish transfer windows.Conduct all transfers via national Football Associations, UEFA or FIFA.
- Restrict the amount any agent can receive on a transaction.
- Register an acceptable fee with FIFA for all players rather than those touted by selling clubs and players’ agents.
What do you think?
Herr Cutz says
Alex, transfers and loans should be a closed season event, no mid season changes. Maybe City would have been encouraged to sell Cantwell last summer when he was keen to make a move, in fact he was agitating for a move last season. Or maybe he wouldn‘t have pulled his sickies if he couldn‘t get out mid season. It would also stop clubs trying to buy themselves out of trouble mid season. In other words it concentrates the mind set, Clubs would have to make best use of their squads, no changing horses once the race has started.
I think with abolishing transfer window it would have to go either to the old system or as you say May to August then live with what you have.
With players like in all walks of life they want more and more very few can see how it harms the game and agents just take money out of it how a waiter in a Manchester restaurant convinced Pogba to let him be his agent and then leave united on a free for Juve then get him to go back and pick up £20+m for a deal just shows how mad this system is.
Can we see a closed shop at present with clubs having 2 periods for trading prices are out of control with that cut to 1 it will be worse and only benefit the really rich and the agents.
If the deck of cards collapse who will take the blame
Thanks for the comment
Mystic kev says
Very well said Herr cutz 👍
I think as I suggested going back to the old system would be a non starter and dropping the January window would be great but could force up an already inflated market.
Could we see clubs signing up for it and would it prevent the wholesale sacking of managers as any new man would have no chance of refreshing his squad except for the free market those players without clubs
Clear majority in football are free transfers and loans. Several loans does not cut even parent club expenses of player, so parent club pays player salary or part of it.
Aubameyang made fantastic move, he forced his transfer to happen personally and cut his own salary to make it permanent. Arsenal had not much to do. I believe that Aubameyang example will make transfers like that happen more often and english clubs are the ones who will get used to that. Its not wise to all the time try to buy foreign players who obviously dislike idea of moving to England.
Biggest and main transfer news was of course that Mbabbe is heading to Real Madrid by free. This is great news to football overall, Real Madrid and Barcelona are clearly 2 most important football clubs and football world needs that they are best and most important clubs to keep interest. Surely Barcelona will find someone as their main face.
Overall once again quiet transfer window. Interesting that Aaron Ramsey is seen as huge name in british football. Serie A was way too demanding to him and he has voted also at least once as flop of serie a season. Today there is Celtic-Rangers derby, Ramsey likely will not play but it should or let say hopefully its going to be good game to watch.
On friday, euro22 futsal semifinal Ukraine-Russia. Political game and of course I do hope that both sides show love to each others and clearly say no to that nonsense war talk. And winter olympics also starts in China, chinese has zero interest in that and basically see athletes as covid threats.
Alex B says
Into days papers Arse-nal paid £7m to him to facilitate the move as he was taking a much lower salary
Interesting view on Barca and Real. I would suggest the majority of football fans outside Spain could continue quite comfortably without these 2 clubs.
Hi Alex, good article!
You won’t abolish the January window, too many people want it.
I don’t mind the mid-season window personally, it freshens up a club’s palate a bit if used wisely, although I do accept that some of the clubs with high monetary clout maybe dip their noses very deeply in the trough.
I guess it also offers a bit of hot and interesting news for a few weeks. It’s certainly been good to see some NCFC players move from the long grass to, for instance, Scottish clubs, and I think Cantwell’s move to Bournemouth is maybe important all round..
If you restrict the amount agents can make from a deal, they will simply make more and more deals happen. Players will become like football gypsies, which will damage them, the clubs, and the game.
Registering acceptable fees … I refer you to my previous answer, and let’s face it, if Sky and the media ensemble want it, the transfer markets will always grab the attention of the fans. Let’s also not forget that transfers are mixed in with wealth creation for clubs and players.
You forgot John Benson a la Bournemouth to Norwich quite a cultured player as I recall … by the time Bond and South were finished, Bournemouth must have had an empty dressing room!
Keith B says
If there’s going to be a window of some sort – personally I wish there wasn’t – recent events have shown it needs to be games based. So, for example, you could say after game 5 has been played no new players can appear until 20 games have been played, then no more after 25. Or whatever numbers you care for. The point obviously being to stop the Burnley kind of fraud where they’ve managed to bring in new players for 4 more games than us and 5 more than Brentford.
Alex B says
Great comments and yeah the Jan Window is there for keeps.
Benson left with Bond to ManC and then on to Burnley and Machin then left City for ManC he got the boot by Swales 2 days after he them to a 5-0 win over their noisy neighbours.
Alex B says
I agree and a couple of managers says that for the rearranged games the squad that should be use is the one available at the time of it being cancelled but Loserpool and others will cry that is unfair and over stretching their squad try to fit all these games in.
Thanks for the comment