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Erik on proposed changes to the transfer window

EFL clubs will be asked to choose from one of three options

28 January 2019

In his recent programme notes for the Barnsley match, our Chief Executive Erik Samuelson explained the ongoing debate between clubs in all three tiers of the EFL about exactly when the summer transfer window should close.

For those supporters that may have missed it, the article is published in full below.

You may recall that until last year the window was open, in effect, from the end of the season until the end of August (and, of course, in January too).

Last season the Premier League decided that they wanted to close the window earlier than that, on a date that would prevent any transfers from being made once the season had started. So they decided that the window would close on the Thursday before the first PL game of the season. This put the EFL in a quandary, which was resolved only after a lot of debate – some of it very passionate – about the pros and cons of staying with the previous dates, adopting the PL dates, or adopting an in-between solution.

In an interesting compromise, the EFL decided to impose the same deadline date as the PL, after which permanent transfers would not be allowed, but to allow “standard loans” to be made up until the end of August. (Standard loans are defined as loans that last from the summer window to either the January window or for the whole season.) This led to a couple of complications, one being that the PL season starts a week after the EFL season, so the EFL window closes on the Thursday after the first EFL fixtures. This is why the Carabao Cup games were put back to the second week of the season, to reduce the risk of players being cup-tied.

The PL’s decision to change the window was for a trial season, but they’ve now decided to extend it. So EFL clubs were recently asked to indicate first and second preferences for what we’d like for the coming season, the choice being between matching the PL’s dates, retaining the current EFL arrangement (as explained above) and returning to an end-of-August closing date for the window.

The first preference votes were split: the Championship want to match up with the PL, League One want the end of August and League Two prefer the current approach. Taking second preferences into account, over 40 clubs voted for setting the closing date at the end of August. However, before any vote of this nature can be put into effect, more than half the clubs need to vote in favour and more than half the Championship clubs need vote in favour, which they hadn’t done. So there was no clear decision.

In an attempt to arrive at a solution, the EFL has now asked those attending next month’s meeting of clubs to choose one of three new options. The first two of these options would have the Championship matching the PL dates for closing the window, while Leagues One and Two would either adopt the end of August as the closing date (option A) or continue with the current approach (option B). Option C is to revert to the previous approach, of having the deadline as 31 August for all EFL clubs. If none of these options gets the required vote of over half the clubs and over half the Championship clubs, then the status quo will prevail.

With both the first two options, A and B, the Championship would have a different transfer deadline than the other two divisions. This would be a major departure from previous practice, and would mean that, for example, after the deadline of 8 August, we could make a permanent signing from a Championship club, but they couldn’t sign one of our players during that period. This may be of concern for some clubs, but in fact this change would simply duplicate the current situation between all EFL clubs and the PL following last year’s changes, and that didn’t seem to cause any serious practical problems. The bigger issue for some clubs might be the perception that Championship clubs would be moving away from the other divisions.

Last time, we at AFC Wimbledon voted for a 31 August date for closing the window, and I expect, after consulting Wally, that we will do so again. Personally, I don’t mind if our deadline date differs from the Championship’s so I’d be happy with either option A or option C.  However, I expect the debate at the EFL meeting will run on for some time. I will keep you informed.

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