Paul Parker

Let’s axe the window

Paul Parker

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Deadline day of the January transfer window always brings with it plenty of wild rumour and speculation.

It's good for agents looking to make a quick buck, clubs seeking to offload unwanted players, and for the media as it drives sales of newspapers and keeps people glued to their television sets and computer screens all day.

It is the fans who are being cheated in all of this. They are the ones who are having their hopes raised, and mostly dashed, by the whirlwind of stories surrounding their club - the majority of which are not even close to being true.

If the player himself were to issue a statement at lunchtime stating he was going nowhere, it would kill all of the hype that has been whipped up in one fell swoop. Much better for the media to keep drip-feeding rumoured sightings of a player in a London hotel, or looking for a house in the capital.

As far as I am concerned, we would all be better off under the old system, when clubs could buy and sell as they pleased throughout the season until near the end of a campaign.

At least then, when a transfer story breaks, nine times out of 10 it would have some basis in fact, whereas now there are months-worth of back pages in between the two windows filled with bogus stories.

Not only that, but clubs can be forced into making panic-buys in January, often paying over the odds to do so - Darren Bent's move to Aston Villa is a classic example of that.

The only good thing about the January transfer window for me is that it is only a month long, rather than the summer period, which seems to drag on forever.

- - -

You saw what the FA Cup has become in Saturday's match between Birmingham and Coventry. It's a West Midlands derby, and there were less than 17,000 fans at St Andrew's - that is shameful.

Birmingham fans obviously sussed that they would be paying money to see a second-string side, and that's exactly what they got.

It's not only the big clubs who are taking the FA Cup for granted these days; everyone in the top flight seems disinterested in the competition, and it will take the next Einstein to come up with a way of restoring it to its former glory: in my opinion, that will never happen.

Notions such as scrapping replays and offering a Champions League place to the winner are often mooted, but I don't think that would help one bit. Besides, even if it were possible, the FA will not want to risk the embarrassment of sending a lower league team into the European Cup.

Can you imagine the nerves among the chiefs of the English game if we were to get a repeat of a Millwall or Cardiff making it to Wembley?

The fact that this year's final is being held on the same weekend as a round of league fixtures due to the Champions League being held at Wembley this year, simply goes to show just how far down the pecking order the FA Cup has fallen.

It is British football's loss, and a sad one at that.

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