It’s one of the most exciting times of the footballing year – the January transfer window. A period of massive upheaval and exciting rumour, here’s everything you need to know.

What is the January transfer window?

The transfer window system was introduced in the 2002/2003 football season. There are two transfer windows each year – one in the summer break between seasons, and one mid season in January. During the transfer window, Premier League and Football League teams can buy, sell and loan players. 

The January transfer window is the shorter of the two transfer windows, meaning that clubs are likely to pay more for players due to the sense of urgency.

How long is the window open for?

In 2020, the January transfer window opened on January 1st and will close at 11pm on January 31st. The day on which the window closes is known as transfer deadline day and is usually one of the busiest days in the season, often with many connected transfers happening together – similar to a housing chain. This results in a mass of media and public interest, with everyone’s eyes glued to their favourite team.

Why is there a transfer window in the middle of the season?

The January transfer window allows clubs to make reinforcements to their team, to help boost chances of promotion or try to avoid relegation. 

What are the legalities of the transfer window?

The ‘transfer window’ is the term given by the press to the Registration Period set out in FIFA’s Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.The length of the Registration Period is set out by FIFA, and each country’s football association sets the specific dates. In the UK, the FA sets the dates that the window opens and closes. These dates must be stuck to, and football clubs cannot legally buy players from other teams outside of the window (‘free agents’ – players without a team – can join a team at any time of the year).

The time constraints can cause difficulties for football clubs because agreements and contracts need to be completed before the deadline.

If a deal has been reached but the contract is not completed before the deadline, a club can submit a ‘Deal Sheet’ between 9pm and 11pm on January 31st – this allows the club additional time to submit the remaining documentation.

Help for clubs and players…

The transfer window can be a tense, challenging time as both clubs and players hurry to get the best deal. At times like this, it is vital to have a dedicated sports law team on your side, ironing out contract issues, negotiating deals and arranging relocation. At Beeston Shenton, our expert and dedicated sports law team can help you with issues arising from the January transfer window and beyond. Get in touch today.