Window creates 'a false economy' – Brown

IT has become a time of innuendo, rumour and, let's be frank, a lot like Christmas in that a sense of anticipation invariably gives way to anti-climax.

Yes, the transfer window that was foisted on English football six seasons ago by FIFA, is about to close once again with a host of potential deals filling internet message boards, newspapers and rolling television news stations.

The reality will, of course, be somewhat different with many in football circles having long since realised that January is no longer a time to hunt for bargains.

Of course, some gems can still be unearthed but for every Nemanja Vidic or Steve Sidwell, there are far too many Scott Parkers or Jean-Alain Boumsongs. Despite that, the clamour from supporters for that "one last signing" continues unabated.

One man firmly opposed to the window is Phil Brown who, through his time as Sam Allardyce's right-hand man in the Premier League with Bolton plus stints in charge of Derby and Hull City, has considerable experience since its introduction ahead of the 2002-03 season.

The Tigers chief told the Yorkshire Post: "If you asked the managers, I think it would be an overwhelming majority who would want to get rid of it. Probably more than 90 per cent.

"I have had plenty of experience of the window since it came in, and little of it is positive. The only people it seems to have helped are the agents. I feel money goes out of this game far too easily and clubs are held to ransom.

"There are too many Dutch auctions, which pushes up prices and values. It has caused a little bit of panic due to clubs being under pressure to make signings in one month. That is not what it was designed for, but it is what has happened.

"There are clubs at this stage of a season chasing the title, clubs chasing promotion, clubs trying to avoid relegation and they all want to improve their chances of success.

"Maybe 'panic' is too strong a word, but the window has created something of a false economy and that is not healthy."

Brown has only brought in one loan signing during January – Simon Walton from QPR – and extended the stay of another, Manchester United's Fraizer Campbell.

He added: "For me, the old system was far better. There was nothing wrong with it. You got to the last six or seven weeks of a season and then the deadline came along. It was often the defining moment of the season.

"Invariably, the business was done before then anyway. As far as we are concerned, everyone expects a lot of movement in the last couple of days but I don't think that happens as much now.

"At Hull, we have not delved into the market as much because we did most of our business earlier in the season."

Brown is not alone in his disdain for the window with Gary Megson recently describing it as "rubbish", Steve Coppell insisting it encourages "scurrilous activity" and Alex McLeish believing it to be a "restriction of trade".

Other managers are not so reluctant to spend big with Avram Grant having splashed around 27m to bring Bolton's Nicolas Anelka, Branislav Ivanovic of Lokomotiv Moscow and Franco di Santo from Chilean side Audax Italiano to Chelsea. Of course, having a Russian billionaire signing the cheques helps.

Further down the football ladder, however, the transfer window continues to wreak havoc with Bradford City yesterday discovering the planned sale of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to QPR had collapsed due to the Jamaican having his application for a work permit turned down – causing ramifications for the club.

Bradford joint chairman Mark Lawn said: "We were assured by his agent it would go through and that is why we used the wages we thought we had freed up to bring in two or three lads that we wanted to have a look at with regards possibly signing permanently in the summer.

"We also told Ady Boothroyd that Scott Loach (who joined on loan from Watford on Tuesday) would be first choice for the rest of the season.

"It is not a matter of life and death by any means, but it is something we could have done without. Donovan joined us in the Championship so is in the top three or four earners at the club.

"The transfer window is not popular in the game because it drives up wages and drives up transfer fees.

"We have been through two administrations at Bradford City so we adopt a sensible approach. But other clubs might be tempted to commit to spending money they cannot really afford and that is a worry for the game."