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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 12:58 GMT
Cash shortage for transfers
Peter Crouch
Peter Crouch moved from Portsmouth to Villa for 5m
BBC Sport's Nigel Adderley reports from Football League headquarters in Preston.

The days of last-minute motorway dashes and frantic phone-calls to try and register that star signing before the 5pm deadline appear to be over.

The wheeling and dealing which used to make transfer deadline day one of the busiest in the calendar has been reduced to a trickle of loan and free transfers.

Perhaps the uncertainty over the doomed deal with ITV Digital seems to have made many clubs reluctant to splash out.

"It's nothing like as busy as it used to be" the Football League's director of operations, Andy Williamson, told BBC Sport Online.

"The clubs now seem determined to take a more prudent and longer-term view.

"Managers used to arrive here in person to do their business right up to the last minute, but the atmosphere in the transfer market has changed. It's now very quiet."

Only a million pounds worth of business was concluded last year and indications here at League headquarters is that's unlikely to be surpassed this year as clubs struggle to maintain squad numbers amid fears around a thousand players could be released this summer.

The unique nature of the transfer deadline is also being threatened by Uefa's determination to impose transfer windows.

Such a move would limit clubs to transfer players during the summer and over the Christmas period - a scenario that Williamson feels would not work.

"Windows are a restrictive regime which simply don't fit in with the traditional system which our clubs, players and fans demand.

"We have no problem with it being applied to international deals, but our game requires clubs to strengthen either their squads or finances at short notice which is why we won't adopt it domestically.

"The volume of transfers recently, which include multi-million pounds moves such as Jon Macken to Manchester City and Peter Crouch to Aston Villa, shows that our system works for both ambitious clubs and those who may require a cash injection.

"If we adopted windows all activity would cease at the end of January which would have massive implications for our game.

"Despite the slow nature of deadline day at the moment, I've no doubt it's part of the game which is here to stay."

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