The English Football League is considering a proposal to extend the summer transfer window until at least the end of January to alleviate financial pressures on its clubs amid the coronavirus crisis.
Mark Catlin, the Portsmouth chief executive, has raised with Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, the prospect of relaxing the window to enable clubs to trade players to ease next season’s cashflow and Catlin will push for the matter to be discussed at Tuesday’s conference call between League One clubs.
Clubs in Leagues One and Two are expected to discuss, in separate calls, how to complete the season, with some more reluctant than others to finish the campaign, even though the EFL is committed to doing so if possible.
The majority of League One and League Two clubs are understood to be receptive to Catlin’s proposal, and the matter has been raised with some Championship board members. The EFL has been open to suggestions from clubs to help tackle the crisis, particularly with the increasing inevitability of playing games behind closed doors, and Catlin believes it is a “no-brainer” for lower-league clubs not to close the summer transfer window as planned on 1 September.
He argues that the relaxation of the window could help clubs to raise crucial funds and ultimately prevent them from being financially hamstrung or going bust.
Many clubs are expected to head into next season with streamlined squads as a result of the pandemic, with many likely to be under financial strain because of the absence of match-day income amid an air of resignation that crowds are unlikely to return before autumn. On Monday Cambridge United became the latest club to furlough playing staff, joining Sunderland, Shrewsbury and Crewe, among others.
If Championship clubs were to reject the transfer window proposal, there is a confidence that League One and League Two clubs could adopt the rules in isolation, though any proposal would require an EFL vote, as well as ratification by Uefa and Fifa.
EFL clubs are hopeful of resuming training on 16 May with a view to matches starting on 6 June but there is a growing reluctance among some players over returning because of fears they could put their or others’ health at risk. The EFL continues to follow government guidance and has consistently outlined player welfare as a priority. It would be in line to pay back around £50m to broadcasters in the event its competitions were abandoned.
The league and Professional Footballers’ Association held further talks over the weekend regarding player wages but one source warned the fallout was “developing into a war”, with no collective solution found.