After much discussion about the relative pros and cons of the strategy, Premier League teams have reached an agreement today that, starting next year, the league’s summer transfer window will close the day before the season starts.
The Guardian has more details about the vote and what it means going forward:
This means clubs will not be allowed to register any new players after 5pm on the Thursday before the season-opener.
The vote at a meeting of top-flight clubs on Thursday, which was not unanimous, followed weeks of debate about the uncertainty caused to managers and players by three weeks of transfer activity and speculation at the start of a new campaign.
However, it also means Premier League clubs will not be able to sign players when their season is under way, while other European leagues will continue to permit transfers until 31 August.
This change is a little bit smart and a little bit not-so-smart. In a vacuum, the new rule makes lots of sense. The league is trying to make it so that starting on day one of the new campaign, every club has their squad locked in, mitigating the risk of a player or team becoming unsettled by a key late departure or an influx of new additions. This should also go some way toward preventing the kind of dubious injuries that, for instance, kept Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez on the sidelines for most of the start of this season as they waited to see if they’d get transferred.
However, it’s not quite a foolproof move. As the Guardian points out, the Premier League is only in charge of the Premier League, so it can only keep EPL teams from buying players after the season starts; foreign clubs will still be able to swoop in and buy EPL players away from EPL clubs until the conclusion of their own domestic transfer window. So while the new rule will prevent situations like Manchester City trying to snatch Sánchez away from Arsenal until the very last minute, situations like Barcelona’s tug-of-war over Coutinho will still be possible.
The rule makes so much sense though that it’s likely that the rest of Europe adopts similar measures. Indeed, the president of UEFA has said as much himself. This early adoption on the part of the Premier League might make for an awkward summer or two in England as EPL clubs miss out on all the deadline day fun and open themselves up for predatory practices of the continental clubs, but the rest of Europe will probably follow suit sooner or later.