The transfer window is the period during the year in which a football club can transfer players from other countries into their playing staff. Such a transfer is completed by registering the player into the new club through FIFA. "Transfer window" is the unofficial term commonly used by the media for the concept of "registration period" as described in the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Player. According to the rules, each national football association decides on the time (such as the dates) of the 'window' but it may not exceed 12 weeks. The second registration period occurs during the season and may not exceed four weeks.
The transfer window of a given football association governs only international transfers into that football association. International transfers out of an association are always possible to those associations that have an open window. The transfer window of the association that the player is leaving does not have to be open.
The window was introduced in response to negotiations with the European Commission. The system has been used in many European leagues before being brought into compulsory effect by FIFA during the 2002–03 season. English football was initially behind the plans when they were proposed in the early 1990s, in the hope that it would improve teams' stability and prevent agents from searching for deals all year around, but by the time it was eventually introduced they had to be persuaded that it would work. However, the exact regulations and possible exceptions are established by each competition's governing body rather than by the national football association.
Current schedules and exceptions
FIFA regulates in general that there shall be two windows, a longer one (max. twelve weeks) in the break between two seasons and shorter one (max. one month) in the middle of a season. The specific periods depend on the league's season cycle and are determined by the national football authorities.
Most major European leagues commence in the second half of the year (e.g. August or September) and stretch over two calendar years to the first half of the next year (e.g. May), resulting in a close season window in the Summer ending in August, and a mid-season window in January.
The periods are different when a league runs throughout a single calendar year, as in most Nordic countries due to weather constraints, Major League Soccer due to both weather and competition from other locally popular sports (most notably American and Canadian football), or as the traditional season in the Southern Hemisphere. The first window generally opens from 1 March until midnight of 30 April, followed by the in-season window from 1 to 31 August.
|Pre-season window||Mid-season window||Associations|
|1 January – 31 March||15 July – 15 August||Norway|
|1 January – 31 March||14 July – 13 August||Brazil|
|6 January – 31 March||21 July – 18 August||Japan|
|8 January – 31 March||15 July – 11 August||Sweden|
|17 June – 6 September||28 January – 28 February||Russia[not in citation given]|
|14 February – 8 May||10 July – 9 August||United States and Canada|
|1 March – 30 April||1–31 August||Finland|
|9 June – 1 September||1 January – 1 February||Scotland|
|1 June – 31 August||1 January – 2 February||France, Germany, Italy, Spain|
|11 June – 1 September||5–31 January||Turkey, Denmark|
|1 July – 1 September||1 January – 31 January 23:00 GMT||England|
|16 June – 8 September||25 January – 22 February||Bulgaria and Romania|
|27 July – 18 October||4 January – 2 February||Australia|
|1 December – 31 January||1–30 June||Kenya|
|1 December – 31 January||1–30 June||Ethiopia|
|11 June – 2 September||3–31 January||Netherlands|
|1 June – 31 August||1 January – 31 January||Albania|
Although, in England, the transfer window formally opens on 1 July, transfers between clubs in the same league can take place as soon as the last competitive fixtures for the season have been played. However, many transfers will not be completed until 1 July because many players' contracts expire on 30 June. International transfers cannot be made until the window has opened on 1 July. Outside of the transfer window, a club may still sign players on an emergency basis, usually if they have no goalkeeper available. Special dispensation from their competition's governing body, for example the Premier League, is required. The transfer window restriction does not apply to clubs below the National League division.
If the last day of a transfer window is on a weekend, the deadline can be extended to the following Monday at the request of those involved for business reasons. The first shift of the deadline since its inception took place in summer 2008, when the deadline was extended by 24 hours to fall on Monday 1 September at midnight. The transfer deadline in England was similarly extended to 5 pm 1 September 2009, due to the August Bank Holiday. The German football league announced an extension of the January 2009 deadline to 2 February.
Free agents can be signed by a club at any time during the season, if they had been released by their previous club before the end of the transfer window. A club can request to sign a player on emergency basis, e.g. if several goalkeepers are injured at the same time. Outside of the transfer window in England, once seven days have passed following the end of a transfer window, clubs from The Football League (Regulation 53.3.4) and (provided the player is not registered with a club from any league below The National League) The National League (Rule 6.6.4) can loan in players i) in the first half of the season, until 5.00pm on the fourth Thursday in November and ii) in the second half of the season, until 5.00pm on the fourth Thursday in March. An existing loan deal can be made permanent at any time outside the transfer window.
The day upon which a window closes is known as transfer deadline day, and is usually one of the busiest days of the window, generating a flurry of transfers, often because a number of interdependent transfers are completed resembling a housing chain, generating much media interest.
Calls to end the transfer window
Steve Coppell, former manager of Reading in England's Premier League, and others have called for the transfer window to be scrapped in favour of the previous system, where deals could be struck throughout the season until the closing weeks. Coppell said that the transfer window breeds panic and encourages "scurrilous" transfer activity adding that "I cannot see the logic in a transfer window. It brings on a fire-sale mentality, causes unrest via the media and means clubs buy too many players" adding that "The old system, where if you had a problem you could look at loans or make a short-term purchase, was far better than this system we have at the moment". Former England Manager Sven-Göran Eriksson has also questioned the value of the transfer window, commenting: "You do wonder at times if it is right to have a window, it was easier when it was open all the time and perhaps fairer for the players. I am sure much of the business being done on the last day is a little bit desperate and that is not right. I think it was better before, but then I am old". 
In January 2013 Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger asked for the January transfer window to be limited to two transfers per window and claimed it is "unfair" in its current form. He cited Newcastle United transfer activity as an example. The following year, Wenger hit out at Manchester United's £37m purchase of Juan Mata from rivals Chelsea. Wenger argued that the transfer was unfair because United and Chelsea had already played each other twice during the season, but United would still have to play Arsenal, and said that "the rules should be adapted more for fairness". Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini backed the sentiment of Wenger, disagreeing that a player "can go from one team to another team in the same league at this part of the year" and also said that the winter transfer window was unbalanced in favour of big clubs, saying "a club with money can take the best players from the other teams".
Former Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew questioned why the Premier League transfer window remains open after the start of the season after Arsenal made a bid for midfielder Yohan Cabaye during his time as Newcastle United manager in August 2013.
In January 2015, FIFPro said that the current transfer window system is "failing football and its players", one of the main issues being that players are released from clubs without explanation or compensation.
- "Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (2008)" (PDF). FIFA. 19 October 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
- "Uefa wants transfer windows". BBC Sport. 24 January 2002. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- Ashdown, John; Smyth, Rob (1 February 2012). "Why does the Premier League have a January transfer window". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- "Transfer clarification". Football Association. 1 April 2005. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- "Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players" (PDF). FIFA. p. 10. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- "Nytt overgangsvindu i Norge" (in Norwegian). Adresseavisen. 3 January 2008. Archived from the original on 6 January 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
- "Janela de transferências termina nesta quarta-feira" (in Portuguese). Confederação Brasileira de Futebol. 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
- ２０１６シーズン追加登録期限について (in Japanese). Japan Professional Football League. 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Transferfönstret". fotbolltransfers.com (in Swedish). fotbolltransfers.com. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- "Transfer window".
- "MLS Roster Rules and Regulations". 2017.
- "Säännöt ja määräykset" (in Finnish). Suomen Palloliitto. 2008. Archived from the original on 20 October 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- "Here Comes The 2013 Football Summer Transfer Window - Fieldoo Blog". fieldoo.com. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
- "Titre II – Les joueurs" (PDF) (in French). UNFP. 2007. p. 25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 November 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2008.
- "Spielordnung" (PDF) (in German). Deutscher Fußball-Bund. p. 27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- "2015 Winter Transfer Window Countdown". European Professional Football Leagues. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
- "Liga de Fútbol Profesional,". Liga de Fútbol Profesional. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- "Europe's mid-season winter transfer window times in full". English Premier League. Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- "Danske regler om overgangsperioder, betaling af træningskompensation og fordeling af solidaritetsbetaling". Danish Football Association. Retrieved 29 May 2010.
- "Premier League Hand Book, see page 150" (PDF). FA Premier League. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
- "The FA Rules & Regs FAQs Transfer Windows". Football Association. 29 January 2004. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
- Ley, John (2 July 2009). "Premier League summer transfer window spending has only just begun". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- "LPF a stabilit data începerii viitorului sezon de Liga 1. 112 zile de transferuri în stagiunea 2014-2015" [LPF set the start date for the next Liga I season. 112 days of transfers in the 2014-2015 season]. DigiSport. 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- GmbH, , TaskFleet. "Worldwide transfer windows calendar". Retrieved 15 February 2017.
- "Kenyan transfers to be heavily scrutinised". 9 May 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Transfertermijn betaald voetbal en FIFA TMS" (in Dutch). 20 December 2011. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "dritarja e transferimet e super liges sqhiptare". DigiSport. 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Transfers – June 2011". BBC News. 31 May 2011.
- "Deadline day rules & regulations". BBC Sport. 1 September 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- "Transfer deadline to be extended". BBC Sport. 18 August 2008. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008. 7 October 2008
- Gatward, Matt (19 August 2008). "Wenger urges fans to support Adebayor as striker seals new deal". The Independent. London.
- "Wechselperiode I endet erst am Montag" (in German). Bundesliga. 29 August 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
- League, The Football. "Section 6 - Players". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- "Section 6 - Players". The Football League. 11 August 2014. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
- Hamilton, Fiona (2 January 2008). "Steve Coppell calls for end to transfer window". The Times. London. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- "Managers hit out at 'rubbish' transfer system". The Telegraph. 1 January 2008. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Sven wants windows scrapped". Sky Sports. 5 September 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011.
- "Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants two-player transfer limit". BBC. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
- "Arsene Wenger thinks Juan Mata's proposed transfer to Man Utd from Chelsea is unfair". Sky Sports. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Manuel Pellegrini agrees with Arsene Wenger - Juan Mata moving from Chelsea to Manchester United is unfair". The Independent. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini backs Arsenal conterpart Arsène Wenger over Juan Mata transfer". The Telegraph. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Alan Pardew unhappy at timing of Arsenal bid". BBC Sport. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Fifpro: players' union says 'failing' transfer system needs reform". BBC Sport. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015.