In a new weekly column about the English Premier League, Chris Reed explains why there have been fewer big-money deals this summer.

So the Poms have voted to go it alone.

They've rejected the European model to regain control of their market - with unintended and problematic consequences.

Not Brexit, English football's rejigged transfer window.


Traditionally, clubs have been able to buy and sell players until August 31, usually three or four games into the season.

This year, after a vote by the 20 clubs in last season's Premier League, it shuts at 6am tomorrow, before the opening round of matches this weekend.

The thinking was to get the wheeling and dealing out the way before the season kicked off. Coaches wanted a settled squad. They didn't want players switching sides.

Soon after the Premier League vote, the 72 English Football League teams decided to follow suit.

Fair enough, but for the fact the major European leagues (and Scotland's) remain open for business till August 31 – and that includes the ability to buy players from the Premier League.

While the head of the European football confederation, Aleksander Ceferin, has expressed interest in following the English example, there are no formal proposals.

It's made for a curious window. Top-level transfer business is notoriously hard to complete in Northern Hemisphere summers featuring a World Cup or European Championship because the best players are with their international teams.

But there's usually a burst of activity between the tournament final and the end of the window.

That's not happened this year. According to the website, with less than 48 hours of the window remaining, the total outlay by the 20 Premier League clubs this summer was a smidge over $2 billion.

That's about half last year's total – bucking a trend of steep and consistent growth over the past decade. (But yes it's obscene, yes it could be spent on schools and hospitals, no it won't change.)

"We expected after the World Cup things would speed up, but it hasn't," Nick Cassidy of DRN, an agency which handles transfers, told Reuters. "Lots of clubs are leaving things to the last minute – it is the strangest window we have dealt with and it has to speed up this week."

That strangeness has been underlined by a lack of major activity at the clubs in the so-called Big Six.

At the time of writing, the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea have each bought one marquee player, Tottenham none. Arsenal have signed three non-household names. Only Liverpool have gone large, paying a world record fee for a keeper – Brazil's Alisson – and snaring highly regarded midfielders Fabinho and Naby Keita. (They did the deal for Keita last year but the financials kicked in this summer.)

It's worth noting a couple of big deals are still likely, notably at Chelsea who are in talks for a keeper to replace the apparently Real Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois. Alisson may not hold the record for long.

It's worth stressing the English transfer window isn't shorter – just earlier. So why the relative lack of activity?

Well, Manchester City already have a powerful squad with few areas for improvement. Tottenham have a fine new stadium to pay for. Chelsea and Arsenal have new managers assessing dysfunctional squads and with a focus on rebuilding.

Nevertheless, there have been suggestions clubs in mainland Europe have delayed deals with English sides to drive up prices as panic sets in near the end of the window.

Whatever the reasons, one man in particular is very publicly very unhappy: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

During his team's pre-season tour of the US he had a go at his club's hierarchy for failing to give him players he identified five months ago.

After the defeat to Bayern Munich on Sunday, he told the club's in-house TV channel: "The other clubs who compete with us are really strong and already have fantastic teams. Or they are investing massively like Liverpool, who are buying everything and everybody.

"If we don't make our team better it will be a difficult season for us."

Mourinho was quick to remind media that Klopp had a crack when the Red Devils made their big money move for Paul Pogba two years ago.

"I want to do it differently," Klopp said then. "I would do it differently even if I could spend that money."

Well he can and he hasn't. During Liverpool's sojourn in the States, Klopp acknowledged the U-turn: "I'll do whatever it takes to make Liverpool successful. I couldn't have imagined since then that the world would change like it has."

The transfer torpor could make for an unusually exciting mid-season window. January has traditionally been quiet, but a combination of money unspent this month and extra revenue from late sales to Europe could mean cashed-up clubs are eager and able to address issues with form and fitness.

For now, England is an outlier, doing its own thing while Europe watches on.

As Scudamore said after the vote by the Premier League clubs: "I think they just decided: 'We're going to break for the border, go it alone, put our marker down, go with it.'"

Come Friday night, they may wish they could vote again.


It's probably appropriate to make some predictions. So here they are:

Champions: Manchester City
Runners-up: Liverpool
Champions League: Chelsea and Manchester United
Europa League: Tottenham
Relegated: Brighton, Cardiff and Watford

Saturday: Man United v Leicester (7am); Newcastle v Tottenham (11.30pm)

Sunday: Bournemouth v Cardiff, Fulham v Crystal Palace, Huddersfield v Chelsea, Watford v Brighton (all 2am); Wolves v Everton (4.30am)

Monday: Liverpool v West Ham, Southampton v Burnley (both 00.30am); Arsenal v Man City (3am).

• Disclaimer: Chris Reed is an avid Manchester City fan whose ability to write objectively may go up or down depending on results.