So here we are, a fortnight after that Wilbraham header and looking forward to another season in the Championship. The most exciting league in England in my humble opinion. Happy days.
However, for many years now, there has been a rampant madness occurring across all European leagues by the name of the transfer window. Transfer windows and, in particular, deadline day may be exciting, but the whole concept gives little benefit to the vast majority of European football league teams.
We have an inflated winter window that generally benefits just the richer clubs. Bolton did get a fantastic deal for Madine but the sale nearly cost us our Championship status. Usually we lose out. We’ve had to sell Clough well below market value and similarly with Holding the following summer.
This summers transfer window hits a new level of craziness. That incredible game against Forest was on the 06 May. The EFL transfer window opened the following day to surprisingly little or no media publicity. It stays open 13 weeks and 4 days to be exact. Clubs have to spend the first two weeks in May focusing on player retention lists and June is generally a write off, as most people in the football industry have their holidays then. Oh and there’s a month long World Cup to distract everyone as well.
But hey, that’s not tough enough folks, so instead of having a straightforward transfer window open and a transfer window shut scenario, let’s complicate it to make it more fun.
I shit you not but the following summarises the EFL rules for this window.
The EFL 2018 summer transfer window opened on Monday 07 May, allowing EFL clubs to complete domestic registrations.
This is to keep in line with Fifa rules which require the window open for a minimum of 12 weeks and because the EFL have decided that the window will close early on Thursday 09 August, before the new season starts the following Saturday.
To emphasise, club’s are currently only permitted to sign players from within England, as the international window does not open until 06 June.
Clubs will be able to sell players until 31 August but they won’t be able to bring in replacements after the transfer window closes for permanent signings at 5pm on 09 August.
Clubs outside the Premiership will still be able to sign players on loan until 31 August.
Clubs will also be able to transfer players out to clubs in leagues where the window remains open, with European leagues still able to buy and sell until 31 August.
And then we come to Bolton Wanderers... As you know, our manager, Parky, Academy head, Jimmy Phillips, and 22 EFL listed players are all out of contract. EFL regulation 65 states that there is a deadline of the third Saturday in May (26th) for clubs wanting to offer terms of reengagement to players going out of contract. A player then has one month to accept or reject. No wonder it’s been quiet at the Wanderers this past two weeks!
We will find out what’s happening on all fronts soon, as the EFL normally publish every clubs retention list a week after the deadline closes. Hopefully, our club will inform us sooner.
There is good news though. Bolton are not under embargo, although EFL special measures oversight of any club transfers continues until this August. The big pluses are that Bolton aren’t limited to a £4.5k per week salary cap or limited to a certain sized squad of contracted players. Both these factors played mayhem with Parky’s plans this time last year and no doubt was a leading factor in that 2 points in 11 game start we had last season. But, this summer, Bolton can at least compete straight away for those better players who are out of contract in June.
Will we be in a position to actually pay a transfer fee though? Filip Twardzik was the last player we paid actual money for, with Neil Lennon coughing up an unconfirmed £200k to his former club, Celtic, on 02 Feb 2015. Well that brings us to the investment or takeover question. Quite obviously if investment doesn’t happen, then our club will continue to run on fumes next season, with relegation being a most likely outcome. Particularly as the Championship becomes more expensive to compete in every season, as the relegated clubs Prem parachute payments warp the market.
So, it’s over to Ken, who stated earlier last season that any prospective takeover or investment talks were being put on hold until the end of the season, to avoid disruption or distraction to staff and players alike. Due to our Championship status not being confirmed until that last game, it is assumed that restart of negotiations could only commence afterwards. This is educated speculation of course but, based on comments made by our chairman during the season, it seems the most logical and likely scenario. Prospective bidders could be domestic in origin, but once again, going off previous reported interest, it is more likely to be overseas based. And this is a problem. Nothing to do with what Anderson is doing but more a problem with the amount of time it will take to complete due process, assuming an agreement is reached that is. And that is no straightforward matter either. But let’s assume hands have been shaken on a deal this past two weeks and that it involves an overseas investment/takeover.
I’m told, by someone who knows about these things, that normal due process is in the order of circa three months, before contracts can be signed off. This is down to standard Anti-Money Laundering, Financial Crime and, of course, EFL checks that have to be carried out. A good example is Barnsley. They had around three months of negotiations before their club was sold to a consortium led by Chinese investor Chien Le last December. Bolton will obviously want to avoid Barnsleys fate of a takeover being too late to help avoid relegation, but it does seem likely that any takeover will conclude at the very end or indeed too late for this transfer window.
So, the next question is one of stick or twist. Do Anderson and Parky plan on investment coming into the club in time for this window or play safe and follow last years freebies only policy? The reality is that only Anderson has the answer to that question. Hopefully he has told Parky this last weekend. Who knows? For us fans we will just have to wait and see but publishing of the retention list this coming week plus the decision on Parky and Jimmy Phillips future should give us some idea as to what direction the club is going. There was also mention of a ‘no holds barred Q&A session’ with Anderson being arranged in the near future, which, maybe will reveal more. Whatever happens, it’s going to be an interesting summer. Fingers crossed eh.