x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Spurs chairman calls for transfer system review

Daniel Levy has called for an overhaul of the Premier League's transfer system, following the departures of strikers Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane.

Manchester United's new signing Dimitar Berbatov. His move from Tottenham Hotspur has angered the Spurs club chairman Daniel Levy.
Manchester United's new signing Dimitar Berbatov. His move from Tottenham Hotspur has angered the Spurs club chairman Daniel Levy.

LONDON // The Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has called for an overhaul of the Premier League's transfer system, following the departures of star strikers Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United and Robbie Keane to Liverpool. "I have already stated my opinion on the manner in which our players were approached and the nature of the negotiations surrounding Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov," Mr Levy told Tottenham's official website yesterday. "Monday's events were further evidence of the need for the Premier League to review the system." Berbatov joined United less than an hour before the European summer transfer window closed at midnight on Monday.

As a condition of the £30.75m (Dh202.4m) deal, young United striker Fraizer Campbell joined Spurs on a season-long loan. In July, Tottenham described United's pursuit of the Bulgaria striker as "disgraceful" and made a complaint to the Premier League. This was dropped, as part of the deal. Tottenham also made a complaint about Liverpool's pursuit of Keane, which was dropped after Liverpool apologised and made a donation to the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, the club's main charity.

Mr Levy claimed the duo's departures had forced the club to alter their plans. "There are no guarantees in football and this summer we found ourselves having to deal with the unexpected challenge of both our leading goalscorers making it clear they wished to leave the club," Mr Levy said. Although the unsettled Berbatov made a substitute appearance in Tottenham's opening day loss at Middlesbrough, manager Juande Ramos left him out of the squad altogether for the subsequent home loss to Sunderland and Sunday's draw at Chelsea.

Mr Levy backed this stance. "Juande was clear, and I believe correct, in not wishing to embrace any player within the dressing room that had no desire to play for the badge of this club and for his teammates," Mr Levy said. "Under these circumstances we had no option but to sell these players." Yet there was little sympathy for Levy from Ramos' former club Sevilla, whose president Jose Maria Del Nido accused the London club of double standards.

"It is hypocrisy personified Tottenham are complaining about things they have done themselves," Mr Del Nido said. "They took away our manager (Ramos) and now they are complaining that others are trying to take their players. Their style is demonstrated by the way they contracted Ramos." Until 2003, English clubs were allowed to buy and sell players all year, but the transfer window was introduced to bring the Premier League in line with other European leagues and limit the movement of contracted players.

The Uefa president Michel Platini believes the system should be reviewed, although not in the way Mr Levy might have hoped for. "I think we need to get the Uefa strategic committee to look at the whole idea," Mr Platini said last week. "I think that it is wrong that a player can play for two clubs in any competition, scoring a goal for one team one week and then scoring against them a few weeks later."

The Frenchman suggested the January transfer window could be scrapped altogether, with player movements restricted to the summer, though this would have made no difference to Tottenham's hopes of retaining Berbatov and Keane. "I also think we have to look at both the summer and winter transfer windows," Mr Platini said. "The season starts in many countries in July or early in August, yet the transfer window does not close until the end of August. Then we have another window in the middle of the season. I think we need to look at the way the system works."

*AP