Premier League clubs have voted to close the summer transfer window before the first game of next season.
The current window closed on August 31st, more than two weeks after the start of the domestic campaign, but this will now change to 5 p.m. on the day before the start of the season.
The vote, which was not unanimous, took place at a shareholders’ meeting, after it had been widely reported that the majority of clubs were in favour of the move.
Several major sides saw their start to the campaign disrupted by transfer sagas, including Liverpool with Philippe Coutinho and Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez.
The fact that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool only five days after playing for Arsenal in a 4-0 defeat at Anfield was raised as an example of the extended window’s potential threat to the integrity of the league.
Not every club has been convinced of this argument, though, with several understood to be concerned about closing the window much earlier than other European leagues.
At the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester on Wednesday, La Liga president Javier Tebas made it clear he did not think starting a season with the window still open was a major issue for his clubs.
The decision means Premier League clubs will be unable to replace players they lose to foreign teams in the last few weeks of the window.
As a result, the 2018 decision is likely to be a trial which can be reviewed before the 2019-20 season.
Those clubs in favour of shutting the window early were given some comfort this week when UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he supported the idea of shortening the time available for signing players each summer.
English Football League (EFL) clubs are also understood to be keen on closing the window before the season starts and EFL chairman Shaun Harvey told reporters at Soccerex on Tuesday that the league will vote on it at a meeting on September 21st.
Transfer windows have been a fixture in the football calendar since 2002 when FIFA made them compulsory after lengthy talks with the European Commission on the game’s transfer system.
They were intended as a compromise between the clubs’ desire for contractual certainty on the one hand, and the players’ rights to freedom of movement on the other.
The actual dates of the windows varies from country to country- and a transfer window is open somewhere in the world every day of the year- but in Europe they tend to be from the start of June to end of August, with a shorter midseason window in January.
Since the windows were introduced, Premier League clubs have spent £10 billion on players, with this summer’s spend a record £1.4bn.