Belfast Telegraph

Transfer window to close before the start of the Premier League season

Premier League clubs have agreed to close the summer transfer window on the day before the start of the 2018-19 season.

The decision came despite opposition from Manchester United and Manchester City, and means clubs will not be allowed to register any new players after 5pm on Thursday, August 9, 2018.

They will still be able to sell players to clubs in leagues where the window is still open, as is currently the case.

In a short statement, the league said: "Premier League clubs have today agreed to a rule amendment that will see the summer transfer window in any year end at 17:00 on the Thursday before the start of the season.

"This is for Premier League clubs only and has no bearing on other leagues and competitions."

Thursday's vote was not expected to result in a unanimous decision and that proved to be the case, as Press Association Sport understands United, City, Crystal Palace, Swansea and Watford went against the proposal, with Burnley abstaining.

The majority decision followed weeks of debate about the uncertainty caused to managers and players by three weeks of transfer activity and speculation at the start of a new campaign.

The fact that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool only four days after playing for Arsenal in a 4-0 defeat at Anfield was raised as an example of the extended window's potential threat to the integrity of the league.

Not every club has been convinced of this argument, though, with several understood to be concerned about closing the window much earlier than other European leagues.

Although Swansea are understood to have voted against the change, the club's head coach Paul Clement expressed personal delight that the move would be going ahead.

"I welcome it," Clement said. "My view has not changed and it has been further reinforced because it got crazy towards the final days.

"It should be done before the start of the season so you can concentrate all your efforts on planning and preparing for the matches. I think that change is very positive."

At the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester on Wednesday, LaLiga president Javier Tebas made it clear he did not think starting a season with the window still open was a major issue for Spain's top clubs.

Thursday's decision means Premier League clubs will be unable to replace players they lose to foreign teams in the last few weeks of the window.

Those clubs in favour of shutting the window early were given some comfort this week when UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he supported the idea of shortening the time available for signing players each summer.

It is understood that German Bundesliga clubs also discussed shortening their transfer window in a meeting on Thursday, while Italian giants Juventus have endorsed the Premier League's move.

Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said on the club's Twitter feed: "The @premierleague's decision to end the transfer window early is wise. Now we have to extend the discussion to a European level."

English Football League clubs are also understood to be keen on closing the window before future seasons start and EFL chairman Shaun Harvey said at Soccerex on Tuesday that the league will vote on it at a meeting on September 21.

Transfer windows have been a fixture in the football calendar since 2002 when FIFA made them compulsory after lengthy talks with the European Commission on the game's transfer system.

They were intended as a compromise between the clubs' desire for contractual certainty on the one hand, and the players' rights to freedom of movement on the other.

The actual dates of the windows varies from country to country - and a transfer window is open somewhere in the world every day of the year - but in Europe they tend to be from the start of June to the end of August, with a shorter mid-season window in January.

Since the windows were introduced, Premier League clubs have spent £10billion on players, with this summer's spend a record £1.4billion.

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