LONDON — The start to the Premier League season will be a bit less frenzied for players and clubs in the future.
The teams in England’s top division have agreed to bring forward the end of the transfer window to the Thursday before the season opens. The changes will take effect in August 2018.
Clubs can still sell players to countries where the transfer window remains open, but they won’t be able to sign anyone until the January trading period. That will prevent a repeat of the Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scenario. The England midfielder played for Arsenal in a 4-0 loss to Liverpool in the third game of the season on Aug. 27. He then joined Liverpool on Aug. 31 — the final day of the transfer window.
While Oxlade-Chamberlain did play amid uncertainty about his Arsenal future, players at other teams linked with transfers were missing in the opening weeks of the season. Players like defender Virgil van Dijk, who handed in a transfer request at Southampton but wasn’t allowed to leave and is only now preparing to start his season this weekend.
For Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore, shifting the transfer window cutoff point helps to protect the integrity of the competition. Of the 20 clubs, 14 agreed to the change, five voted against and one abstained.
“I think the strongest advocates of doing it were that you should make sure your team, your squad, your season is prepared from Day 1,” Scudamore said, “and therefore you come out of the block on Day 1 with your players ready and that’s it.”
The Premier League has spearheaded a change that could spread across Europe, with UEFA exploring the idea of closing the transfer window at the end of July. Most leagues start in August on the continent.
“I think the transfer window is open for too long,” UEFA President Alexander Ceferin told German broadcaster ARD in an interview broadcast Thursday. “It is strange that the season starts, you can play for one club and then you can switch and just play for the next one, which is not good for the competition. We in serious talks to shorten the transfer window.”
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