Everyone here at www.football.co.uk is pouring over every story, rumour and medical update; deciding between what is true and what has been merely conjured up by the mind of an underworked hack or overly stimulated tweeter and what to publish and what to spike, so I thought that I would take a short break to consider the whys and wherefores of the window itself.
Informal windows have operated on a country by country basis but at the start of the 2002/03 FIFA made them compulsory. The exact dates of the window swinging open and then slamming shut vary slightly around the world, so for the purpose of this discussion we shall concentrate on England, well it was the birthplace of football!
The window itself has as many advocates as it has detractors, but the idea that a player can just up sticks at any point in the season (bar the final few weeks)now seems about as strange as a goalkeeper picking up a back pass ? but that is what used to happen and that is what prompted the introduction of the compulsory window a decade ago. Many of the high profile transfers that took place before 2002 took place outside of the times of the year that have now become the traditional windows, Eric Cantona for example, left Leeds for Manchester United in November 1992 ? as if just making the move was not contentious enough!
This and other unsettling moves finally convinced the powers that be in Zurich to act and only allow transfers to happen on between the dates set by them. The basic premise that a club should be able to start the season with a settled squad and not have the delicate balance of their squad upset at any time seems sensible enough and the addition of a shorter mid-season window allows for clubs to replenish their weakened or underperforming ranks as required. So what is the problem? Why do so many people want a return to old days?
To me the answer to the question is as simple as the solution to the problem, in fact they are one and the same thing. The English summer window runs from 1st July (the official start of any new season) until around midnight on 31st August or the first working day after. The English football season starts on either the second or third weekend of August, can you see where I am going yet? The idea of the window is right, it is just the timing that is wrong. For example at the start to the 2011/12 season Arsenal played five competitive matches prior to the close of the window with many, Arsene Wenger included, blaming the unsettled feeling in the squad for their disastrous start.
I cannot see any reason for moving the window one month and having it run from 1st June to 31st July. Some may sight the bi-annual International tournaments as a hindrance to this, but these often act as shop windows for the world?s best players anyway and frankly anyone who believes that all the cattle trading ceases at a Euro or World Cup tournament is living in dreamland. Others may quote the official start date of the season as a barrier, but this is purely an arbitrary date set by the English Leagues and could be changed at a stroke.
So for me it?s simple. Keep the mid-season window as it is in January ? maybe with a playing break alongside it ? and retime the summer window to run throughout June and July.