English Premier League clubs have agreed to close the summer transfer window the day before the start of the 2018-19 season, meaning clubs will not be allowed to register any new players after 5pm on the Thursday before the season-opener.
The vote at a meeting of top-flight clubs on Thursday, which was not unanimous, followed weeks of debate about the uncertainty caused to managers and players by three weeks of transfer activity and speculation at the start of a new campaign.
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 mid-season window in January.
Since the windows were introduced, Premier League clubs have spent £10 billion on players, with this summer’s spend a record £1.4 billion.
Brighton manager Chris Hughton welcomed the decision.
Hughton, who signed Sporting Lisbon defender Ezequiel Schelott but missed out on Tottenham striker Vincent Janssen on deadline day, said: "That is good news.
“I think most managers would say the same. You have a hectic enough time as it is preparing for the season.
“It would make it uncomfortable going into the first week but most of us would prefer to have it then than what we have now, going into the early weeks of the season.”