What is the point to the Transfer Window?

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By Ernie Fox

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is already growing sick and tired of the endless transfer speculation and we are still half a month away from the window opening. Not that I’m not excited about the new season, about the prospect of bringing in new signings in the hope that it will turn around our fortunes for next season, but does there really need to be so many lies?

So far we’ve been linked to Pirlo, Ibrahimovic, Tevez, Kovacic, Falcao, Martinez, Montoya, Benteke, Austin, Nainggolan to name just a handful – feel free to add further names to the list – some of these are blatant lies whilst some may have an element of truth to them; some have possibly been instigated by unscrupulous agents or other clubs, wishing to gain better contracts for their clients or unsettle their intended targets respectively, whilst others are simply to cover over a slow news day.

The problem with this constant rumour and speculation is that we are so far away from the transfer window opening that there is nothing to stop the tabloids writing whatever they want. At least when the window opens, the majority of rumours – not all – become a little more realistic because those that have been fabricated are far quicker and easier to distinguish from those that contain an element of truth, because of the actions of the club. At present, as the club can’t officially sign any of these alleged targets, they are highly unlikely to confirm or deny their intentions in fear of other sides taking advantage of this insider knowledge.

And so we get to the crux of the argument; what is the point of having a Transfer Window? Why do we restrict clubs from signing players all year round? Some say it is to protect the smaller clubs, to prevent disruption of an inform side when one of the game’s super powers comes swooping in half way through the season and steal their number one striker. That could be true if it wasn’t for the January transfer window.

In January, clubs are given the opportunity to add to their squads or acquire much needed funds in preparation for the following summer. But what benefit does it have restricting this to January? For some clubs it can have completely the opposite effect. Take Raheem Sterling for example, ever since news of his contract negotiations was leaked to the press his performances on the field have become a shadow of what they were that gave him the reputation of being one of the best young players in Europe. He has become completely unsettled and his form has dropped as a result and there is little club or player can do whilst the press continue to push the subject.

To say the transfer window protects clubs is nonsense because clubs and agents alike can still use the period between windows to unsettle would-be targets and force their respective clubs into doing business  when the next window opens. In essence, a club now has an important first team player who is now completely disinterested and disillusioned by his current situation and the club will have to carry that weight whilst his value depreciates and his position at the club becomes less and less tenable.

It is likely Liverpool will make a small number of signings in the summer transfer window, after last season’s mistake of bringing in far too many new players then struggling through the campaign to integrate them all into the side, it would seem crazy to make the same mistake again. Having said that the window isn’t open and we’ve already announced the signing of three players which is surely 50% of what our overall summer business will involve – not including those teenage players brought in to develop through the youth ranks. It makes a complete mockery of a transfer window when such substantial levels of business is being done completely legitimately. If this is perfectly acceptable – they were signed as out of contract so well within the rules – then what benefit is there restricting the other types of transfers?

What makes this scenario even more ludicrous in England is that other major countries in Europe regularly open their own registration periods a month earlier than in England. It does beg the question, why do we feel the need for an extended period of abstinence? It’s not as if work isn’t being done behind the scenes all year round to secure the services of specific individuals, so what advantage is there by restricting this becoming official for an additional month?

Many people have spoken out against the window like Steve Coppell, Sven Goran Eriksson and Arsene Wenger and although some may have done so purely for the reason that they have in some way been disadvantaged by the current rules – the latter being a prime example – I can see very little by way of compelling argument to defend the current regulations.

To be honest, this is more of a rant about transfer speculation; perhaps I need to stop getting so excited about prospective signings only to be badly disappointed when it turns out we were never in the running to sign them in the first place – anyone remember the Marco Reus saga of last summer? But in thinking through the issues of tabloid speculation and rumours it does make me wonder about the current apparatus that have been put in place by football’s governing bodies that enable such ludicrous situations and by extension question, who is it actually benefiting?

I think we can all take a guess that there’s more to all of this than can be seen on the surface. The FA implemented these rules under the instruction of FIFA therefore although each individual country’s governing body has certain flexibility in how these rules are implemented, it is a FIFA ruling that has driven the concept of a set registration period – and it is becoming ever more clear from recent events that for decades FIFA hasn’t acted on behalf of the fans or the game, but for its own selfish agendas and benefits.

There are a lot of questions here and not so many answers, so allow me to offer one simple piece of advice. Don’t believe what you read. In my experience very few tabloid rumours turn out to contain any truth until the transfer window has opened; some are better than others and I’m not going to start listing which ones in my experience are the least reliable, but I’m sure it won’t take long to figure it out for yourselves.

In my opinion, we have made a good start to the transfer window, some fresh blood in Ings and Milner who will work hard and add to the high intensity pressing game up the higher end of the field, something we were badly missing last season. All we need now is that bit of quality, one or two world class players who can make the difference in the big games; but until these are confirmed on the official Liverpool web site I will be refraining from getting too carried away by media suggestions, because chances are the story has been made up by someone with their own hidden agenda and not for the good of the game or the fans.

Written by Ernie Fox

Twitter: @ernietfox