The transfer system is obsolete and threatens the game. Free transfers, loans and a salary cap is what it should be at all levels in Europe.
The surprising thing about the transfer window so far is not that Victor Moses is still playing football and has just been transferred from Chelseaat Spartak Moscow, nor that a few big clubs pay big player fees. The most surprising thing is that among English clubs outside of the Premier League, only Fulham paid a transfer fee (£ 12million for Harry Wilson from Liverpool), or rather if someone else paid him. did, he didn’t say so.
The ‘undisclosed’ fees are confusing given they are used in moves such as Harry Smith’s move from Northampton to Leyton Orient, Trevor Carson’s move from Motherwell to Dundee United and the deal that took Neill Byrne from Halifax to Hartlepool. If there is a charge – and it seems unlikely given the finances of lower league clubs – it can’t be important. And this is the case throughout Europe. Below the first division of each country, transfers that cost money are rare or completely absent.
While the small number of the wealthiest clubs seek to capitalize on their wealth in an era of economic restraint for the majority, and still spend several millions on players, the vast majority have no such option. It has never been clearer how separate and different these small numbers of wealthy clubs are.
But really, free transfers and loans, that’s how it should be. The transfer system has its roots in outdated practices that sought to restrict player freedoms, but is itself, ironically, now obsolete. Valuations are arbitrary at best, often a figure seemingly taken from the sky. They allow wealthy clubs, more than ever, to leverage wealth to ensure success by finishing in the top spots and are expected to have an even more destructive effect on the league’s competitiveness this year and into the future.
Yet they’re so normal in football – although less than 15% of all transfers are chargeable – that we rarely question them. Instead, we just want our own club to buy more players, often as a shortcut to improvement. Indeed, transfer gossip is the most popular page of virtually any website, as fans of the big clubs eagerly gasp for who they’re going to buy.
Strange as it may sound now, for most of football history, although transfers have obviously taken place, they weren’t a big talking point as many obsess over them now. Money had not been fetishized in this context. The idea that anyone could say ‘we need a £ 50million striker’ would have been considered strange because the commodification of footballers had not taken place; that’s not how people’s minds worked. Fans were more likely to be interested in a rumor about a good boy on the reserves, whom they wanted to see in a first-team game. When Trevor Francis became the first £ 1million player (£ 1.15million, in fact) it seemed more than crazy. It was around £ 5million in today’s money. So you can see how big the change has been.
But that seems to be where we’ve landed once again from the league down, as team building from loan players, free transfers, and promoting young players becomes the only way to develop a team, given the ruinous state of finances of almost every club. .
It’s so disheartening when your club develops a great player, like Aston Villa did with Jack Grealish, and you just know that the big money – as the club wishes as much, if not more, than the player – will attract him, despite his obvious loyalty to the West Midlands. It actually seems unfair. It sounds more like bullying, actually.
In a world where football was running like a normal business and transfer fees just didn’t exist, since they don’t exist if you want to leave Asda to work at Tesco, players should see their contract and then go to the outside market if they wanted to move or if the club did not want to hire them anymore. This is perfectly normal. Why has football been different for so long?
This would encourage short-term contracts as it would probably suit both parties not to be tied for too long. While you can argue that this results in less security for the player, it would be a crucial part of ensuring that the club’s finances remain stable and balanced, and a good player would still be in demand anyway.
Obviously, without independently judged salary caps set at a level that all clubs in the division could afford, the wealthier clubs would simply pay whatever money they spent on the transfer fee into salaries instead. to get their man. But now is the time for major changes.
We need to significantly reduce the power of the rich clubs. Outliers and the occasional meltdown aside, they’ve already stalled all competitions and will do so in perpetuity, unless we can stop them from sucking up all talent. Remove them from the league for a European Super League was our best chance to do it. Sadly, football was ‘saved’ from this fate by fans who didn’t seem to realize that they were condemning everyone to be equally runners forever, doing little more than providing wealthy clubs with a team to beat. most weeks.
We see that outside the top of the pyramid, football can function perfectly without transfer fees; it is duty. Yes, wage inflation is still chronic and out of control, but it can be corrected when contracts expire. They will have to be because clubs still often pay more than their turnover in salaries and survive on non-repayable loans from homeowners, and this is not a sustainable situation.
Obviously, some transfers sometimes benefit a lower league club, which gets a few much needed selling percentage points to initially have the player on their books. But it’s more casual than regular because there are relatively few big deals. They’re just a byproduct of the bizarre transfer system, not a reason it exists.
Also, better run clubs with stable finances would not rely on these occasional bonuses to get them out of the shortage. With a more equitable distribution of funds throughout football and a return to the outside obtaining 20% of the home team’s revenue, abolished in 1983 (a major historical factor in the tightening of financial disparities), along with a good imposed salary caps, there is at least a chance to disrupt the current ludicrous status quo.
It may sound crazy, may seem unthinkable, but then we are in a mad and unthinkable situation with much of football on the verge of financial extinction while a small elite wallows in wealth, and as we still see this summer, buy all the best players. Now is not the time for half measures or simple adjustments.
Football’s ecological, competitive and financial ecosystem needs a complete reset to prevent its league and cups from being expensive real estate, a gated community that the vast majority can never access. A reset could remedy the fundamental malfunction of these competitions and prevent lower league clubs from going bankrupt. Obviously, this will not happen unless it becomes a legal obligation because those who have the money have the power and they want to keep their financial primacy, because to see it decrease is to see their domination decrease.
But if FIFA, UEFA and the FA were serious about restricting the growth of big European clubs’ stranglehold on their competitions – and they should be – they could institute a whole new way of doing business and that absolutely should include the abolition of transfer fees. .