Football

The January transfer window should be nailed shut

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The transfer window comes to a close tonight to a familiar feeling of anti-climatic drama on e̶v̶e̶r̶y̶o̶n̶e̶'̶s̶ ̶f̶a̶v̶o̶u̶r̶i̶t̶e̶  the only round-the-clock sports news channel available to Great British viewers.

The Sky Sports News team have a monopoly on sports news coverage in the UK and set the agenda in their own way. They see the transfer window as a key part of their engagement with the football loving public and perpetuate its growth for their own gain.

But there is little to be gained from this media circus for the clubs, players or fans involved. Ultimately, all but the top clubs are left either weaker or poorer and there is good reason for this mid-season window to be closed for good.

Suppression

The problems stirred up by the January transfer window are evident from this version's biggest deal. Wilfried Bony was given license to agitate a move away from Swansea City after Manchester City declared their interest.

"[It's] a cattle market and everyone's selling all their cows and they're overpricing the cows - some of them are bad" - Garry Monk

Swansea City were given little choice but to accept the rather fair compensation package of around £28 million. Bony was by far their best player and they will be worse off because of his departure. Their season is now one of maintenance rather than ambition.

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It is hard to fathom Manuel Pellegrini's thought process when he decided to sign Bony. He already enjoyed an embarrassment of riches in attack, including Alvaro Negredo–currently on loan at Valencia–Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic, costing a total of £115 million to assemble.

Bony's move to City has amplified why the big clubs love the January transfer window. It gives them a chance to make up for what may have been a disappointing first half of the season. A new signing helps boost morale of fans and may help to make up for their shortcomings at the business end.

It is no surprise that the six biggest spenders in the January transfer window consists of Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal–six of the Premier League's current top seven.

It helps widen the gap between the big and small clubs, essentially giving them license to eliminate any potential competition. As soon as a smaller club threatens to break rank, they can be suitably suppressed by pinching their top performing stars.

Development

The Premier League allows teams to name as many players under the age of 21 in their squads as they like. This was a move designed to aid the growth of homegrown stars. As injuries and fatigue take their toll over the course of a season there should, in theory, be a chance for fledglings to break through.

When Jose Mourinho named four young English stars on his bench against Chelsea, it was seemingly proof of the system working. But instead of aiding the development of these potentially great players, Mourinho is instead set to strengthen his squad with Colombian forward Juan Cuadrado.

One of those benched youngsters, Izzy Brown, could find himself out on loan by the end of the window as a result, possibly sitting on the bench of a lesser Premier League club with inferior facilities and coaches.

Player insecurity

Brown, 19, now faces the prospect of finding himself being shuttled to the other side of the country on an hour's notice for the chance to finally play some first team football.

As nice a life as being a footballer can be, there is nothing more stressful for a professional than transfer deadline day, according to Arsenal star Theo Walcott at least.

“I will be watching Sky Sports and seeing all the rumours,” Walcott told the Evening Standard.

“But it is probably one of the most stressful times for a footballer. I am sure a lot of people enjoy watching that but it is so stressful for players because you could be going somewhere one minute and then somewhere else the next.

“We are talking about some people’s careers.”

It is a factor few fans will think of. Most footballers will have a life set up before they're told a bid has been accepted and the club want them to leave. For those with families, it can be made all the more stressful. Imagine being given hours to decide whether to relocate your family to Spain or simply to a different area of England.

Predictability

It is ironic that the overcaffeinated Jim White's tagline for transfer deadline day is 'anything can happen' because the midseason window makes sure that, no, not anything can happen.

Ultimately, the transfer window helps to reaffirm the establishment of the top four, five, six or seven and breeds predictability. The bigger clubs spend money to stay at the top and they stay at the top because they have money to spend. This is a vicious cycle that is less likely to be broken because they are given ample opportunity to add to their already bulging arsenal halfway through a campaign.

The enjoyment given to the few fans who are treated to truly beneficial moves does not compensate for what the January window takes away from football. Closing it won't bridge the gap between top and bottom, but it would certainly help.

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Topics:
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Premier League

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