As 2020 passes its half way stage we are finally seeing the end of the football season in several leagues, and competitions, throughout England and Europe. Last week, 15 July 2020, the transfer window for summer 2020 was announced with 3 particular dates to note. First of all, I bring you the facts and dates of the transfer window, before explaining why I believe this could be a new style, and maybe the start to a new era of transfer window.
The transfer window is set to open on Monday 27 July 2020, the day after the current Premier League season ends. This will be a day that many teams have been anticipating to begin their preparations for the 2020/21 season. In particular, EFL League 1 and 2 teams where some clubs may have released key players, or more players than they would have liked, and are now relying on reducing wage bills and making money by selling individual talent on; purely to try and survive as a football club.
When does the window close? The window closes at 2300, Monday 05 October. This date is in line with UEFA setting the deadline for Premier League clubs to register their squads for the Champions League and Europa League campaigns. This date is set on Tuesday 06 October. The window means that top flight teams will be able to conduct most of their transfer business before registering squads to UEFA.
The final date and time, and probably the most important to supporters of clubs in lower leagues, is 1700 on Friday 16 October. This is the end of the 2 weeks (05 October – 16 October) extra domestic window. FIFA allows summer transfer windows to run up to 12 weeks, with UEFA setting their deadline for registrations that means the main window will only last 10 weeks. Therefore, to allow maximum time available to EFL clubs, a domestic window was introduced for this summer. This window, however, comes with particular rules. EFL clubs can buy, sell and loan between themselves as much as they wish. Premier League clubs will only be able to trade with EFL clubs including loans and permanent deals during this window. No transfers will occur between Premier League, or foreign clubs, during this window.
As years have gone by, every summer becomes the talk of “how much will be spent this summer? Will there be a record signing?” Summer 2020 is different, I expect. After a turbulent period for businesses, big and small, around the globe it has certainly been no different for football clubs. There have been no knowing which clubs will survive the drop into financial ruins, or who will be relegated into the dreaded worlds of administration, or even worse – folding. This suggests that for the majority of clubs, particularly outside of the Premier League and in some cases the EFL Championship, that spending money will not be the easy option it was at the start of the year in the January 2020 transfer window. Retained and released lists have done a complete reverse to what they would normally look like, with some released lists naming half a squad. This, I am sure, has very little to do with the ability of the player but more to do with the wage that player was earning. In a world where people are losing jobs in all walks of life, this is the brutal reality of how hard the footballing industry has also been hit.
Why could this be a new era of transfer window? I can only see more players being graduated from youth set-ups and academies into first team squads, ultimately saving clubs considerable amounts of money whilst negotiating tighter wage bills, but also giving youngsters their first glimpse of senior football. A lot of players that have been released from clubs will no doubt be trying to find employment potentially on severely cut wages, just so they can be earning something again. In an industry where the highest earners only account for a very small percentage, the rest will be met with uncertainty for seasons to come as things work themselves out.
As money is less readily available in this multi-billion-pound industry could we see more player swaps? This allows clubs to transfer players subsequently altering wage bills and seeking new talent, whilst much less cash exchanges hands. The domestic window will allow EFL clubs to continue their search higher up in the pyramid after the majority of top flight business is done, essentially the loan market.
This comes with its own individual problems, though. If the likes of Premier League clubs are to loan players out, they may have to foot more, if not all, of the wage bill as no doubt receiving clubs will not be wanting to split the wages in their traditional ways. Premier League clubs will have to weigh up the advantages of loaning a player out, against the disadvantages of still paying their wages despite not being at the club. On the other hand, keeping them in their reserves squad, but not gaining the experience of senior first team football.
This is definitely going to be a transfer window to remember one way or another. As usual, money will continue to do the talking, but this money is definitely much more limited on what it can say compared to previous windows. Not only are lower league clubs going to be hit with financial dilemmas, Premier League clubs will also be major players in the market as to how much money is spent this year, and where their young and future stars will be playing football. Personally, I can’t wait to see how this window pans out!