EDITORIAL – The MLS Secondary Transfer Window is scheduled to open on Tuesday, July 7. The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated things for MLS and the world. Accordingly, MLS could be looking to change the Secondary Transfer Window from its original schedule to account for present circumstances.
MLS Could Alter the Secondary Transfer Window to Accomodate Pandemic, Altered Season Schedule
The transfer window was set to open on July 7 and last 29 days until Wednesday, August 5. That has the window opening the day before the MLS is Back Tournament kicks off in Orlando. The window is scheduled to close during the semifinals of the tournament.
Every MLS team will have played two games when the window opens and most will have played just five or six games when it closes.
The league hasn’t decommitted from finishing the 34-game regular season as well. So that has most teams playing 15% of their season by the time they can no longer add players. Even in a depressed market for buyers, that’s not good.
What the League is Looking at:
“Under the FIFA regulations of the transfer of players, every countyry and league in the world has a set number of days in which registration perionds can be open. [Leagues] are allowed to structure those anyway you want as a league. A number of leagues have actually put in place three windows to help with this,” Colorado Rapids General Manager Padraig Smith told Last Word on Soccer.
To be clear, leagues or federations can’t decide to just open the transfer window and registration period of players indefinitely. But they aren’t required to have that window open all in one continuous period of time.
“I’m on one of the subcommities that’s looking at that. There will be ammendments made to allow clubs to fill the roster out the right way moving forward. We could see that coming in a few weeks. We’ve already had a lot of detailed discussions with MLS,” said Smith.
So, MLS won’t be expanding the window per say. But, the league could decide to break the window up into several chunks. There could be a pre-MLS is Back window to accommodate the deals that have already been agreed, a post-tournament window, and maybe a late regular season window.
What the Result Could Look Like:
The Secondary Transfer Window has historically closed with 8-10 games left in the regular season. MLS could have a two week-ish long window around that time, whenever it happens later this year.
MLS has a few other mechanisms they could use to help teams given the unprecedented circumstances. The league has a long history of making up and changing the rules as they go along without warning or explanation. Don’t count on a billion dollars of Pandemic Allocation Money (PAM) being handed out.
But MLS deciding to give every team an additional 2020 International Roster Slot wouldn’t be the craziest thing Don Garber’s done. We could see the league make a few one-time moves like this.
One thing is for certain. As Smith said, MLS is looking at possibly moving and/or spacing out the allocated days of the Secondary Transfer Window to align with the coming tournament and resuming regular season fixtures. To do so would help teams endure these trying times, promote competition, and be reasonable.
Plus, there will be some quality devalued players around the world that MLS teams have a real shot at getting that they normally wouldn’t have.