The hysteria of transfer Deadline Day has come and gone, and like a fraternity the day after hosting a “Back to Campus” party, a number of teams have to live with the consequences of their rushed decisions. On World Soccer Talk we’ve covered a number of angles on the pros and cons of the transfer window for the teams, leagues and media companies, however, we haven’t touched on the transfer window itself.
The insanity of Deadline Day has spawned its own following as people across the world watch pundits do live reports outside of stadiums, Harry Redknapp do interviews strangely inside a car, and rumors fly, are dismissed, and are then confirmed. It is fascinating to watch and benefits teams and leagues with tons of attention. But as with any phenomenon that comes not from careful planning but a cult-like following, the quick rise of Deadline Day leaves many fans wanting.
Thus, here are my three suggestions for improving the summer Deadline Day. These are more focused on the mechanics of the transfer widow rather than critiquing the coverage which I know has its own critics. That, however, is another angle I want to avoid for this piece. These three suggestions will benefit the media coverage as well as the teams and make the overall experience more enjoyable.
1. Make the Deadline Day deadline during the day – Major League Baseball has a non-waiver trade deadline at the end of July, and is maybe the closest equivalent in terms of coverage about players’ movement to the transfer window. MLB’s actual deadline for deals is July 31 at 4 PM ET, not midnight. The benefit of this is that coverage of the deals can extend through prime-time television viewing and allow the sport to extend the coverage of its deals at a time when most fans are awake. The FIFA transfer window works great in the U.S. (ask NBC and its 6PM deadline special) but I can imagine for European fans waiting up half the night to watch coverage is aggravating. Put the deadline at 2100 GMT and allow the media and fans to revel in the deals at a more reasonable hour.
2. End the transfer deadline a week early and create a new week-long loan window – What I’ve seen the past few Deadline Days is that teams miss out on a target to transfer and have to hurriedly grab a player on loan from another club. This may not be incredibly detrimental but it does not allow clubs time to properly negotiate back-up deals when their primary deals fall through – and yes I know they have three months to negotiate but let’s be realistic. I propose that the transfer deadline be August 24, but for the next seven days clubs can only negotiate loan deals in order to fill in the gaps left on deals gone right, or wrong. In this scenario, Manchester United could look at their squad on the 25th, see they lacked a premier striker and defender, and seek out loan deals to acquire players to fill these needs. This extends the deadline day drama a week later as clubs jockey to acquire players on loan.
3. New negotiations for players cannot begin 24 hours before the close of the window – This may be hard to police, but this rewards teams for doing their homework. Imagine if a club was prohibited from negotiating with any team on a player unless its negotiations had begun August 23 or before? That might lessen the media circus but it would make the loan deadline day MUCH more interesting, as last second deals that could not exist place pressure on clubs to fill gaps through loans.