Belfast Telegraph

Why the Premier League has got cold feet about shutting the summer window early

The decision taken two years ago could be reversed.

Speculation over Christian Eriksen’s future has helped spark a Premier League u-turn (John Walton/PA)
Speculation over Christian Eriksen’s future has helped spark a Premier League u-turn (John Walton/PA)

By Matt Slater, PA Chief Sports Reporter

Premier League clubs look set to reverse their 2017 decision to shut the summer transfer window at the start of new season and fall in line with rest of Europe once more.

Here, PA explains what the league was trying to do and why many feel the move has failed.

Why did England’s clubs make the change?

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Philippe Coutinho was one of the players involved in high-profile moves in 2018 (Peter Byrne/PA)

The 2017/18 season started, as usual, in the second week of August but the first three weeks of the campaign were dominated by transfer talk, moaning managers and ‘wantaway’ players. Liverpool spent the summer resisting Barcelona’s distracting advances for Philippe Coutinho, only to then poach Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal on deadline day, a week after he put in a distracted display for the Gunners at Anfield. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger had never liked starting the season with the transfer window open, saying it disrupted planning and upset players, and now the likes of Jurgen Klopp, Ronald Koeman and Jose Mourinho were singing from the same hymn sheet.

How did the league respond?

Officially, the Premier League is neutral on these matters, as it is up to the clubs what they do, as long as they operate within UK employment law and FIFA’s global guidelines. But the then-league boss Richard Scudamore was sympathetic to the idea and a vote was held at a regular meeting of the league’s 20 shareholders in September 2017. A two-thirds majority, or 14 clubs, was needed to shunt the window forward three weeks and 14 was what the idea’s backers got, with both Manchester clubs, Crystal Palace, Swansea and Everton voted against and Burnley abstaining.

Why did United ignore their current and former managers’ wishes?

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Jose Mourinho, left, and Pep Guardiola did not get their way over transfers (Martin Rickett/PA)

The club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward voted against the idea for the simple reason that he thought the Premier League was handing an advantage in the transfer market to its foreign rivals. And he was not alone in thinking this – in fact, City’s bosses ignored the preferences of their current and former managers, Pep Guardiola and Manuel Pellegrini, as well. But the Manchester giants lost this argument because most of the other clubs believed a) Liverpool had proved they could say no to La Liga’s giants b) it was the right thing to do and c) the rest of Europe would eventually realise this, too.

So what happened?

Europe stuck together, leaving England isolated. Sound familiar? Despite a thumbs-up for the move from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and some supportive comments from German and Italian clubs, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A decided to leave the window alone and take the 20 or so extra days of shopping that were on offer.

How did that go down?

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Mauricio Pochettino was planning “a party” to mark the end of the European transfer window (Mike Egerton/PA)

It has taken two years to sink in but it would seem enough Premier League managers, and their chief executives, have realised the European leagues are not going to copy England’s brave, moral stance unless they have to. Unlike the last vote, only a majority of 11 is needed to reverse the decision and it would appear Liverpool and Spurs are among those to have changed sides. The latter’s manager Mauricio Pochettino has spent the last few weeks fretting about Christian Eriksen’s future, while Klopp has not had to fight off any raids on his squad but has said he thinks the decision to close the window early was a nice idea but it has not worked because everyone should shut it at the same time.

What happens next?

The matter is understood to be on the agenda for next Thursday’s regular shareholders’ meeting, although that could just be for a preliminary conversation before voting on it at the next meeting in November. In the meantime, the clubs can now relax, as transfer windows shut across Europe on Monday and they can also reflect on the £50million or so of transfer fees they received from elsewhere since closing their window on August 8 – a sum that contributed to the league’s lowest summer net spend, £575million, since 2015. It should also be noted that the Premier League still outspent any other league this summer, with a total outlay of just over £1.4billion.

PA

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