How does a transfer work?

Samir Carruthers
Samir Carruthers

A player is spotted in the club reception and it appears he’s keen to stick around. It’s only a matter of time before he’s in the shirt, right?

Fans are desperate for any shred of transfer news, gossip or update, no matter how little or seemingly meaningless.

But a week after news of the proposed transfer broke, there’s still no movement. So why do transfers take so long? Why are we all left in limbo for weeks when, on the surface, everyone wants the deal to go ahead?

“It depends what kind of transfer it is,” explained Dons boss Karl Robinson. “If it’s a short term deal, it can land on your desk and be completed quite quickly.”

Sometimes, though, deals require a lot more hard graft than that. In his bid to replace Benik Afobe, one of Robinson’s main targets snubbed Dons’ approach last night, bringing to an end the chase which the club had a lot of time already invested in.

Robinson added: “The player who turned us down last night, we’ve watched six times. We met with him too.

“Deals can take months. There are ones you build up, and some that just happen in 48 hours, and then another day for a medical. They take a lot longer than people think.”

Some people’s understanding of football transfers are based solely on playing hours of Football Manager - agreeing a fee, agreeing terms, and confirmation.

But one thing that doesn’t show if the level of behind-the-scenes work the manager has to put in, and the hours of phone-calls made between the parties to ensure the deal goes off without a hitch.

“There’s a minimum of 50-100 phone calls to the players and the club,” Robinson continued. “It’s relentless. It’s a long drawn out process. That’s why managers don’t like the January transfer window.”

And then, of course, there’s the matter of money. For Dons, paying vast sums of money is out of the question, but that doesn’t stop other clubs from asking. Cue another series of back-and-forth between clubs, more time and more waiting.

“We can’t go in and pay people what they want, so we have to haggle as well. It’s never a case of ‘you want that, we can give you that’ here. We have a wage cap here too, because we’re about tomorrow, not just today. It’s difficult and tiring!

“I played one of the FIFA games, and it’s a lot harder than that!”