AS the dust continues to settle on a record-breaking summer that saw the English top-flight alone splurge £1.4bn on transfers, Bradford City manager Stuart McCall has called for a return to Football League clubs being able to make emergency loans outside the season’s two windows.
A late flurry of activity during Thursday’s deadline day saw overall spending by the Premier League clubs rise by 23 per cent on last year’s figure, as 14 of the 20 members – a tally that includes Huddersfield Town – set new transfer records over the summer.
Clubs below the top flight were also not shy to get out the chequebook, Middlesbrough leading the way with an outlay of £44.8m as Wolverhampton Wanderers (£19.8m) and Fulham (£16.6m) also spent heavily along with Yorkshire duo Hull City (£16.6m) and Leeds United (£16m).
Deadline day alone also saw Football League clubs sign more than 100 players, an unprecedented number that McCall sees as evidence of managers stockpiling players due to the UEFA-enforced change that came in last season whereby no loans can now be made outside the summer and January windows.
“This is the second year of the new system but I do prefer it how it was,” said McCall, whose side are live on Sky Sports this lunchtime at home to Bristol Rovers in League One.
“I like to have the option of emergency loans, I think most managers at our level would. All the current set-up does now is push clubs to run with bigger squads and that costs money. Greg (Abbott, Bradford’s head of recruitment) was saying to me in the final week: ‘Are we covered here? Do you need someone there?’
“We probably were covered but a couple of injuries can change all that. That can lead to clubs bringing in that extra player or two.
“I prefer to run with a tighter squad anyway. Then, if someone pulls a hamstring or whatever, you go out and bring in a short-term loan as cover – knowing that in three weeks your player will be back. That was possible under the old system.
“For us lower clubs, this way of doing things isn’t great. We have to go with a bigger squad to be on the safe side, which means spending money that some clubs can’t really afford.
“I would not mind going back to how it was before. What were the negatives? I know some say: ‘You don’t want a team of loanees’ and question if they do it for the shirt. But, these days, some players only sign for a year anyway so what is the difference?
“Gone are the days of three or four-year deals at our level. And I don’t agree with those saying lads here just for a year are not committed. There are a couple in our squad now and they are as committed to helping Bradford City as anyone else.”
McCall’s comments come on the back of a window that saw Yorkshire’s 10 senior clubs involved in 229 transfers. Bradford were responsible for 21 of those as several long-term players moved on following last May’s play-off final defeat to Millwall at Wembley.
Around £400,000 was spent on bringing Shay McCartan, Jake Reeves and Dominic Poleon to Valley Parade, a decent-sized outlay for a club whose £250,000 capture of Charlie Wyke last January represented their most expensive recruit since August, 2000.
The sums spent in the Premier League this summer, of course, dwarf those at Bradford with the £1.4bn outlay already a record amount for a single season with the January window still to come.
I like to have the option of emergency loans, I think most managers at our level would. All the current set-up does now is push clubs to run with bigger squads and that costs money.Bradford City manager, Stuart McCall
Manchester City led the way on £215m, while just four clubs in the top flight – Arsenal, Burnley, Stoke City and Swansea City – ended up in the black on their transfer dealings.
The average net spend per club in the Premier League was £33.25m. Huddersfield’s stood at around £32.5m following the deadline day departure of Nahki Wells to Burnley in a £5m deal that will net Bradford a windfall of around £500,000 due to a sell-on clause in the 2014 transfer of the Bermuda international.
That transfer of their former striker plus the addition of back-up goalkeeper Lukas Raeder was City’s only direct involvement in Thursday’s finale to the window.
Nevertheless, McCall added: “As an opposition manager, you still watch it with interest. I remember seeing Conor Sammon leaving Kilmarnock in one window and was delighted because we (Motherwell) were vying with them for a place in the top six.
“This year, Marvin Johnson left Oxford (for Middlesbrough) and you do look on and hope the top players from other clubs will leave.”