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Has the January transfer window lost it’s purpose?

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 Like most things in football these days, or at least in the top leagues across the world, everything is done for the purpose of money. The clubs sing to the hymn sheets created by the constant search for financial gain. But, has it become such a way that the January transfer window has become another way to spin money and highlight the World elite to even more sponsors and the such like?

The Background

When the January transfer window was brought to the attention, as a concept, to Europe’s elite football associations it was initially frowned upon by most. That was in 1992/93, eventually in 1999 most of Europe had agreed to a transfer window commencing in mid-December through to the end of January. The Premier League, however, were relying on a final vote to determine whether or not the league and its clubs would be in or out.

Terry Venables. Godfarther of the 1992 Transfer window decision

In that vote 3-4 of the smaller clubs voted against the impending new transfer window in fear of their club collapsing if they couldn’t do business through other months of the year when profits could potentially be higher. The rest of the league voted in favour.
Then, in 2000, with FIFA under enormous pressure from the European Commission to wind up its whole transfer system, due to accusations being made that the system was breaching the Treaty of Rome. FIFA got an almighty kick up the rear and almost immediately came up with a compromise.
The compromise was to include compulsory transfer windows across its leagues, to prevent the issues that the Bosman debacle had created in 1995.

Jean-Marc Bosman – The game changer. Won a ruling in the European high court which banned restrictions on foreign EU players within national leagues and allowed players in the EU to move to another club at the end of a contract without a transfer fee being paid.

It got to 2001 and the Premier league had still not agreed to the proposals put forward by FIFA, however the rest of Europe had and even the European Commission were now on board with FIFA’s plans.
Finally, in 2002/03 the Premier League and its teams succumbed to mounting pressure and accepted the proposals.

As it stands…

You could probably ask all the managers in the Premier league for their opinions on the January window and the old fashioned managers (the likes of Pardew, Moyes & Allardyce) will tell you it causes unnecessary problems and disruption midway through a season.
The new managers, however, have almost been brought up on the reality of the format being here to stay. They almost certainly utilise it better and often, because of that, get more support and backing financially from the board above them at their respective clubs.
Ultimately, the idea of this current window wasn’t really something the Premier League wanted. That was before the enormous amounts of television money were poured into clubs and subsequently meant the Premier League was the biggest financial money churner the world over.

The windows current image

Put simply, it’s no longer about clubs strengthening their squads. Gone is the ideology of clubs selling players to buy players, because they just don’t need to do that anymore. There’s now enough money at each Premier league club to buy a player within their means without worrying about the cost.
The January transfer window is now purely a luxury for the bigger clubs to have another opportunity to flex their muscles and bring in the big names. Some might say that’s a cynical way of looking at it, but there’s no plausible way or reasonable fact to prove it’s any different. Rarely do the clubs below the bottom half of the league go out and buy 2-3 players like they might in the summer, because they don’t have the funds like they would in the summer from things such as TV deals and kit sponsors.
The only benefit this current period in the season has for clubs not in a financial position to buy players, is the option to loan them until the end of the season – usually to try and stave off the threat of relegation – often a temporary measure that will wind up with the club following the same process the following year.

Further afield…

When you look away from the Premier League you start to see that it’s a common theme that other leagues don’t spend much in the January window and instead opt for loan deals;
 
Bundesliga 16/17 season (January): £92,124,000.
Bundesliga 16/17 season (Summer): £498,944,250.
Loan deals – Departures in Jan: 62
Loan deals – Arrivals in Jan: 40
La Liga 16/17 season (January): £25,425,000.
La Liga 16/17 season (Summer): £439,051,500.
Loan deals – Departures in Jan: 59
Loan deals – Arrivals in Jan: 54
Serie A season 16/17 (January): £88,231,007.
Serie A season 16/17 (Summer): £662,917,461.
Loan deals – Departures in Jan: 217
Loan deals – Arrivals in Jan: 184
The best example that the loan option is being exploited because of the constraints of the transfer window, much against its intention, is that of Serie A. Of the 184 arrivals to clubs in Italy in January last season, on a loan basis, 54% of those were players returning to the club they were originally contracted at. Proving once more that so often players leave in January for 12 months and then return to their former clubs. That holds no benefit for the players involved in most cases.
Another case in point and more recently is ‘Barkley-gate’ between Everton and Chelsea. Between August 2017 and January 2018, a fee of £35 million was agreed on 31st August for the injured midfielder who’d been at Everton for 13 years. The player and his agent conspired to turn down that move. Just 4 months on and while he was still injured, a new fee was agreed between the clubs meaning the selling club (Everton in this case) gets £20 million less for the lad in whom they’d invested so much. Evidently, that deal would have been agreed between the clubs and then quietly between the player, his agent and Chelsea with the latter always focused on a deal in January.

To summarise

The January transfer was not something that the elite leagues and football associations all over Europe wanted. The window was formed by FIFA to appease the mounting pressure they were under from the European Commission. Surely it’s finally time to level the playing field by abandoning the January window and hand the Premier League’s struggling clubs and managers a greater degree of stability for a whole season at a time. Ultimately becoming a way to level up the money/no money situation thats obviously apparent every season across Europe.

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Football

Andy Robertson – From Amateur to Anfield

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Another 3 points gained under the Anfield lights on Saturday evening and another outstanding performance from one of Liverpool’s star men. Nope we’re not talking about Salah, Mane Mane or Bobby Firmino because it’s all about Robbo, Andy Robertson.
The left back who has made the position his own and is quite rightly receiving the plaudits he deserves.

Andy Robertson

Just 5 years ago Andy Robertson was playing for Scottish 3rd Division side Queens Park, a club in which he signed for after having been released by Celtic for being too small earlier in his career.
His move to Dundee United saw him instantly catch the eye of many north of the border. A renewed contract was agreed within just weeks of his debut and was followed with being PFA’s “Scotland Young Player of the Year” and a subsequent place in the PFA “Scotland Team of the Year” for the 2013-14 Scottish Premiership season.

Andy Robertson
All of this convinced Hull City to swoop with a near £3m bid to get their man, United accepted and the left back was on his way to the EPL.
3 seasons with Hull under the stewardship of former Man Utd stalwart Steve Bruce allowed him to gain what is deemed acceptable experience in England and it was Liverpool who won the race for his signature.
An absolute bargain at a reported £8m and his dream debut season is showing no signs of slowing down.

He has even earned the approval of Kop legend Stevie G. He told BT Sport: “He’s done terrifically well since coming in and the fans have taken to him. It’s not just about Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres, the top players that come, the fans love someone who gives 100 per cent.”
“He’s come in and he’s a very humble kid and gives it his all every game. To be fair to the kid. He’s been excellent.”
His lung bursting closing down run vs Man City made him a social media sensation but for those who have watched him for the past few years this was nothing out of the ordinary.
International recognition has obviously come his way and with 20 caps already under his belt, his partnership with Kieran Tierney gives The Tartan Army a strong looking left side for years to come.
He’s has never given up and has taken every chance that has come his way.
One of the signings of the 2017/18 season has undoubtedly been Liverpool’s Number 26.

Andy Robertson

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Nick Pope – From League Two to Russia as Englands most in form keeper?

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Some pretty daft things are said in the wake of a team winning promotion. Players who, in the depths of winter, you were berating for not being able to pass a ball two yards are suddenly going to be providing the names of your first born. You claim that you believed in the team all along, when in reality, after a home defeat by Dagenham & Redbridge, you had sworn never to go again. Most stupidly of all however, you claim that your young loanee goalkeeper will go to the next World Cup. Or at least that’s what I did after Bury’s promotion on the last day of the 2014/15 season. While little Thomas Daniel has yet to show his face, the latter statement may actually come true as Gareth Southgate takes a look at Burnley’s Nick Pope in his latest England squad.

Nick joined Bury in January 2015, on loan from Charlton Athletic. Our promotion campaign wasn’t running particularly smoothly. The day before Pope’s debut we sat 9th in League Two, two points outside the play off places and nine points off the automatic promotion places. We’d lost nine games, shipped as many goals as Tranmere, who went on to be relegated and the aforementioned Dagenham & Redbridge had managed to do the double over us as they fought at the wrong end of the table. Three goalkeepers had already worn the ‘keeper’s jersey before Pope. Shwan Jalal, Rob Lainton and Scott Loach had tried and failed to provide the solid goalkeeper David Flitcroft was looking for.

Pope’s debut was a pretty forgettable home draw against Wycombe Wanderers. He conceded a goal, which was to be rarity during Nick’s time with Bury. In the following 21 games, Pope conceded only nine goals, won fifteen games and lost only four. Pope exuded a calmness rarely sighted in the fourth tier of English football, instilling a new confidence in a defence which had underperformed for most the season. Come the final day of the season, Bury needed to win to be promoted. Away at Tranmere, who had already been relegated, the nerves showed. Pope was called upon to make crucial saves to keep the scores level. In the 61st minute however, Tom Soares wrote himself into Bury folklore and at the end of game, Bury found themselves in League One.

The following season, Pope was back with parent club Charlton. He began and ended the season as Charlton’s first choice goalkeeper, not playing all the games as Charlton preferred Stephen Henderson through the middle part of the season. This season was to be one of disappointment however, as Charlton were relegated to League One. Rather than drop down to League One with Charlton, Pope’s career took a different path. The winners of the Championship, Burnley, decided to take Nick onto the Premier League, signing him on a three year deal in July 2016. Pope played only cup matches in his first season with the Clarets. Even when Tom Heaton missed Premier League matches, 37 year old former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson was the preferred option.

With Robinson retiring in July of 2017 and a further injury to Tom Heaton opening the door, the 2017/18 season has seen Pope grasp his opportunity with both hands. To date Pope has kept ten clean sheets in twenty seven Premier League appearances, working behind a defence containing fellow England hopefuls James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.

Could Pope go from League Two to a World Cup in three years? Despite being arguably England’s most in-form goalkeeper heading into the tournament the chances are probably slim. Without any injuries, Gareth Southgate will take Joe Hart, Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford. Despite being woefully out of form, going into a tournament without Joe Hart would be seen as a mistake by most, given his experience, even if he is just there to lend a helping hand to the number one. Butland doesn’t seem to be losing any favour from being embroiled in Stoke’s relegation battle while Pickford could claim to be Everton’s best player of this season. However one mistake, a loss of form or injury could see Pope take the place of any of these three.

Back at Bury, nearly three years have passed since that rainy day promotion at Tranmere and we have never properly replaced Nick Pope. Since that day twelve (!) different goalkeepers have been used, seven during the 2015/16 season alone. As we head towards relegation back to League Two, the summer would be that little bit more bearable knowing that an ex – Shaker was on the biggest stage of them all. All the best Nick, lad. UTS.

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How good is your FA Cup Knowledge?

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LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 27: The FA Cup Trophy is seen prior to The Emirates FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 27, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

How good is your FA Cup knowledge?

FA Cup Quiz

Test your FA Cup knowledge with our quiz to mark the occasion.

Leaderboard: FA Cup Quiz

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