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League Clubs Missing Out!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 07/07/2003

FIRST, Second and Third Division clubs are struggling financially because they have lost a huge amount of their traditional income from selling players because of the FIFA-imposed transfer windows.

The Football League says its 72 members have been adversely affected by the windows which designate two periods during the year when players can be bought and sold, and this is allowing premier league clubs to take League players on the cheap.

In a research report undertaken on behalf of the Football League, it is claimed that;

  • lower division clubs' income from selling players to Premier League teams has fallen sharply; from £52.2million in 1999-2000 to just £33.2m last year - a drop of 36% in three years

  • The value of players sold from one Football League club to another has plummeted from £25.8m in 2001-02 to £3.3m last season

  • Transactions within the Premier League involved just £52.5m last season, down from the £80m average of 1997-2002

  • The total amount spent by all 92 English clubs buying players from anywhere fell to £90.4m last season - a drop of almost 50 per cent on the 1997-2002 average of £169.5m.

    The League want FIFA to relax the rules, imposing the transfer windows on players switching between countries, and allowing clubs in England to buy and sell between themselves throughout the year.

    Even within the transfer windows there have been some startling changes. Usually the month of July brings a rush of wheeling, dealing and signings. But this year clubs are showing more restraint. By signing players in August before the deadline, they are saving a considerable amount of money in wages, which they have to pay from the signing day.

    The Guardian today quotes two sources on the subject saying;

    "Deals are taking longer because most clubs - excluding perhaps the top Premiership sides - can pick and choose. In the past they'd have had a shortlist of three and if their third favourite became available they'd throw the kitchen sink his way to get him. Now they can wait until they get their first choice."

    The 29 deals involving English league sides completed following the contract cut-off date, only three involved a transfer fee.

    "In the lower divisions, where clubs have a set budget, there's been a flurry of activity but that stops when you get up to First Division level.

    "Cardiff, a club with money, have not signed one player. Lennie Lawrence is waiting to see who's been taken so he can knock down the wages on those who haven't. That way he'll get a better standard of footballer for less money."

    Players who are playing hard to get may not be acting wisely. It is expected that the transfer activity will peak in August and those players who have not found a club by the end of that month, may well find themselves out of football.

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