ZURICH (Reuters) - Football clubs around Europe are growing increasingly frustrated by a transfer window they say is too long and overshadows the start of the season.
The transfer windows for the major European leagues close at the end of the August, two to three weeks after the season has begun. Coaches say that makes it impossible to prepare properly.
English Premier League clubs will vote next week on a proposal to close the transfer window before the season starts. That will probably be ineffective unless other leagues follow suit, but many around Europe feel the same way.
“There is a desire to shorten this ordeal,” said Giuseppe Marotta, chief executive of Serie A champions Juventus.
“It should stop before the five most important European leagues get under way. We need to find common ground at European level for an agreement of this type.”
“We can’t transform football into a circus which has little to do with sporting values ... with players who, when they are left out of the team for the first time, stop training because they want to change clubs.”
Borussia Dortmund’s chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke, said, ”The current set up may be good for the media but not for everyone else.
“At some point the fans need to know what kind of team there will be,” he said. “We must urgently discuss this within the European football society so that by the first matchday there is an end to the transfer issues.”
The transfer system is governed by FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, but it is up to national associations to decide the length of their own windows. FIFA’s rules say each country should have two windows of up to 12 weeks during the close season and four weeks during the season itself.
FIFA declined to comment on the issue.
Rui Vitoria, coach of Portuguese champions Benfica, outlined the difficulties the current system creates.
“You can work with a team for two months and then from one day to another, players leave and the situation changes,” he said.
National team coaches are also affected, because sometimes they have to play important World Cup qualifiers with key players caught up in last-minute negotiations.
Chile forward Alexis Sanchez faced Paraguay on Thursday just hours after learning a move from Arsenal to Manchester City had fallen through. Photographs showed him looking dejected before kickoff and doubts were raised about his frame of mind. Chile lost 3-0.
Algeria face a crunch match with Zambia on Saturday but will have to prepare without Riyad Mahrez, a key player. They agreed to let him leave their training camp on Thursday to complete a move away from Leicester City.
Mahrez was then due to fly direct to Lusaka by Saturday - hardly ideal preparation for a crucial match. His proposed move fell through.
Italy coach Giampiero Ventura summed up the problems as he prepared for a showdown away to Spain on Saturday.
“There are players in the middle of negotiations who have not played, or others who have changed teams and have only played a few minutes, and it’s the national team which pays the price,” the veteran coach told reporters.
“The market should close 24 hours before the start of the season. I’ve always said that.”
Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Larry King