James Shield's Sheffield United Column: Football should make this change to the transfer window system
This time next week, the dust will have settled on another transfer window and Sheffield United will be able to focus totally, without any distractions, on their opening fixture of the new Premier League season which takes place at AFC Bournemouth.
The decision to bring the deadline forward should, in my opinion, be applauded. Top-flight clubs can now enter the campaign knowing exactly who is going to be at their disposal for the next five months. It is a shame, however, that teams in the Championship and below have not been afforded the same courtesy. That is something the governing bodies must be encouraged to consider when they put their brains together next.
There is, in my opinion, another change football's power-brokers could make. It would be radical and potentially controversial proposal although, having performed an admittedly unscientific opinion poll, one which is not entirely without support behind the scenes at Bramall Lane.
I see no reason why, rather than covering nearly all of the summer, windows can not be condensed into the space of a week. Implementing this idea would surely be of benefit to managers, head coaches, players and directors. But most of all, if the seven day period is set for the end of May, supporters who are enticed with various financial incentives to renew their season tickets early.
Barring any last minute and unforeseen departures, United's latest recruitment drive appears to have been a resounding success. With a competitive budget at his disposal, Chris Wilder has enticed some wonderfully talented individuals to South Yorkshire since leading them to automatic promotion from the second tier. They include Phil Jagielka, Ravel Morrison, Callum Robinson and Lys Mousset while Oli McBurnie is expected to arrive shortly from Swansea City.
Naturally, though, some targets Wilder has been chasing will have slipped through the net. One of those, it seems, is Brentford's Neal Maupay who for the time being at least remains in west London.
Unlike McBurnie, who skillfully used a recent interview with a Welsh television station to confirm his heart was set on joining United, it is thought Maupay has yet to provide any clues - if, as seems likely, he leaves Griffin Park - about his preferred destination. Last month, when they were still actively chasing the Frenchman's signature, United suspected they were in a two-horse race with Brighton and Hove Albion. Now, although their interest has not ended entirely, negotiators acting on Wilder's behalf believe Aston Villa and possibly a club overseas have rejoined the scramble for Maupay's services.
Aged 22 and with possibly a career defining choice ahead of him, the centre-forward and his agent are perfectly entitled to consider all the available options. No criticism of their conduct is implied. But condensing the window, while still allowing people to make plans and prepare bids outside of it, would surely be much fairer on all concerned? Thomas Frank, the Brentford manager, would not have seen his preparations for the campaign overshadowed by the saga surrounding one of his star performers. Maupay himself would now be settled and in a better position to hit the ground running; wherever he eventually ends-up.
Squeezing the time-frame could serve another important purpose for the sport as a whole, reducing the temptation for some of those tasked with brokering deals to play potential purchasers off against one other. It is a practice which contributes to the dangerous level of wage inflation threatening to strangle the game.