Premier League clubs vote to move transfer deadline before season starts

Premier League clubs have voted to close the summer transfer window before the first game of next season.

The current window closed on Aug. 31, more than two weeks after the start of the domestic campaign, but this will now change to 5 p.m. on the day before the start of the season.

The vote, which was not unanimous, took place at a shareholders meeting, after it had been widely reported that the majority of clubs were in favour of the move.

Several major sides saw their start to the campaign disrupted by transfer sagas, including Liverpool with Philippe Coutinho and Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez.

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 reported 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.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton, who signed Sporting Lisbon defender Ezequiel Schelott but missed out on Tottenham striker Vincent Janssen on deadline day, welcomed the decision.

"That is good news," he said. "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."

Swansea coach Paul Clement outlined his support for the early closure of the transfer window last month and expressed his delight that the move would now be going ahead after describing the end to the window last week as "crazy."

"I welcome it," Clement said. "My view has not changed and it has been further reinforced because it got crazy towards the final days. It should be done before the start of the season so you can concentrate all your efforts on planning and preparing for the matches. I think that change is very positive."

English Football League (EFL) clubs are also reported 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 Sept. 21.

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 the end of August, with a shorter midseason 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.