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A History Of The Transfer Window

An illuminating tale of transfer tinkering

Another transfer takes place, circa 1900
Another transfer takes place, circa 1900
The FA take a new delivery of transfer windows
The FA take a new delivery of transfer windows
Transfer windows, the Bill Gates way.
Transfer windows, the Bill Gates way.
It's transfer deadline day in England and once again, football clubs across the country will be frantically buying and selling players right up to the midnight deadline. It's part of a long tradition that started back in the early 1900's when the movement of one player to a new team was conducted entirely through a real window.
Window of opportunity
If a club wished to buy a new player, they'd send a representative along to the headquarters of the FA (located in Bert Millichip Street, London) to establish which individuals were on their 'transfer list'. On arrival, they'd be shown to a room that was entirely bare except for a window through which they'd speak to an Agent of Requested Transferral.

Details would be exchanged, at which point the Agent would retire to a cellar room where any available players were kept in dark and somewhat unpleasant surroundings. It's from here that we get the modern-day expression of teams being 'in the dark' about a potential transfer taking place.

A requested player would then be retrieved and taken up to meet the waiting club representative, but before he could sign a contract, he'd have to undertake a number of tests.
How much is that donkey in the window?
These would include heading a ball through the window, kicking a ball through the window and diving in an overly-dramatic manner through the window to prove their suitability. If the buying representative was impressed with what they saw, a contract would be signed by all parties and the player involved would climb through the transfer window to complete the transaction.
Window on the soul
Experiments in replacing this original system have been tried but never succeeded, including the Loan Door, the Swap Gate and the Velux Loft Extension Trial Window, but with a few modifications down the years to allow for modernisation, the classic transfer window remains fundamentally the same.

Despite the interference of modern-day agents with their stuffed brown envelopes, players move from club to club with greater ease now than ever before. It's just a shame most of the deals are done on Windows rather than through them these days. It used to be much more interesting the old way.
Chris O

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