'The transfer market is dead' - Why summer player recruitment has never been quieter for Portsmouth, Sunderland & Co

Football’s transfer market is ‘dead’.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 1:05 pm
It has been a quiet summer so far at Fratton Park in terms of transfer business. According to agent Brian Howard, that is reflected across football. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages/PinP

And agent Brian Howard doesn’t anticipate its resuscitation until pre-season is almost upon us.

Pompey’s sole recruit so far this summer has been teenager Liam Vincent from non-league Bromley.

The lack of fresh faces at Fratton Park has lead to frustration among the Fratton faithful, who have also seen half of last season’s playing squad depart.

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According to Howard, Pompey’s apparent inactivity reflects a transfer market which has slowed to a trickle following Covid and associated financial consequences.

And the former Blues skipper, who works for Momentum Sports Management, is adamant it’s a country-wide malaise – not merely confined to the south coast.

Howard told The News: ‘It’s slow, very, very slow. No-one is in a rush to do anything.

‘I'm taking hundreds of calls, non-stop, while there have been a lot of meetings and a lot of travelling.

Brian Howard (centre right) is pictured with Ben Close, Christian Burgess and his business partner Phil Korklin (far left) following Pompey's Checkatrade Trophy final victory in March 2019

‘But, in terms of commitment and deals getting over the line, it is probably the quietest I have known it at this point.

‘The market is dead. There’s no money in the game at the moment.

‘I spoke to a guy on Monday who was previously an agent and now works for a football club. He told me he’s glad he’s at a club this year because being an agent must be terrible as the market’s literally dead. There is no movement.

‘Clubs are trying to get players out to save on wages, etc – but if nobody’s bringing anyone in, then players can’t go out.

‘I believe there will be a huge domino effect and we’ll see lots happening in a short period of time.

‘It will take a few clubs to be the first ones to gamble and get their signings done, then the rest will follow.

‘If it wasn't for Covid, we would have done a lot more, but everybody’s in the same boat.

‘In football, everything happens at 100mph and everyone wants it done quickly. So the week before pre-season is going to be a bit mad.’

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And he believes players across the game are being tabled reduced terms during contract talks in a tough financial climate for clubs.

The 38-year-old added: ‘Every single football club is affected, not just Pompey.

‘Although the likes of Pompey, Sunderland and Ipswich, who rely on big gate receipts and match-day revenue meaning they’ve been paying big contracts during Covid without any revenue, will have suffered more than most.

‘Speaking generally, budgets have been significantly slashed due to Covid. Squads are also getting slashed, and, unfortunately, a lot of players who will find themselves out of work.

‘Players who thought they were getting Championship contracts are getting League One wages and it’s filtering down.

‘Some players in League Two will probably get better offers in the National League because of the financial fair play rules, while those who have taken a bail-out are operating under embargo.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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