English Premier League: 2018 Summer Transfer Window Earlier Closing – A Good Idea?

By George Gros, Director and Head of Football, VII Law, London

Although the possibility of closing the Summer Transfer Window earlier to coincide with the beginning of the playing season, to avoid any distractions/disruptions amongst players and their clubs, has been mooted for some time, the English Premier League (EPL) put this novel arrangement into action during the 2018 Summer Transfer Window. Fifteen out of the twenty EPL clubs had voted for the change; so, it was not a unanimous decision.

The Window closed on 9 August, whereas in the rest of Europe the transfer deadline remained open until midnight on 31 August.

Was this change a success or not? That is the question. And will/should it be repeated?

In fact, there was less transfer activity in this year’s EPL transfer market. £1.27 billion was spent in 2018, compared with £1.4 billion spent during the 2017 Summer Transfer Window. The total number of transfers also dropped from 384 in 2017 to 282 in 2018.

Was this due to the earlier closing of the Window?

It would appear probably not after the lavish spending in 2017 and 2016.

But who knows?

The fact that the change was made during a World Cup year may have been a factor, with a shorter period available for players involved in the World Cup to have medicals, negotiate and finalise transfer terms. Thus, most football commentators suggest continuing the change for another two years and see what actually happens then.

Certainly, there is a disadvantage for the EPL clubs being out of sync with their European counterparts, who could still buy players from the EPL after the EPL Window has closed but before the European Window has done so.

In my view, based on my professional experience as a football agent/intermediary and all things being considered, a unilateral shorter Transfer Window, is not a good idea. The disadvantages outweigh any possible advantages.

In fact, it is a sure way, I believe, metaphorically speaking, of catching a cold!

George Gros may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ggros@viilaw.com’