Football: Top coaches at odds with owners, back earlier transfer window closure

NYON, Switzerland (AFP) - Top football managers on Thursday backed an earlier closing of the transfer window, given that the current rules mean they can lose players they honed to rival clubs amid European competition.

Speaking after a meeting of leading managers held by European football's governing body Uefa, Tottenham's Andre Villas-Boas underscored the coaches' differences with club financiers, who want to boost their transfer market war chests with lucrative Champions League revenues.

"The transfer market was something that was raised with big attention by the coaches, regarding the eventual closure of the transfer market a little bit early," the Portuguese told reporters.

"The discussion is big because the clubs defend the idea that the transfer market should be kept as it is, to ensure that funding from Champions League qualification arrives, which allows teams to further strengthen themselves," he added.

While the transfer window closes as the European summer winds down - this year it shut on Monday - the qualifying rounds of the Champions League runs from the start of July until late August.

Managers are unhappy that drawn-out transfer sagas - such as that of Tottenham star Gareth Bale's big money move to Real Madrid - can sow havoc in their planning for the domestic season.

"The problem is the discrepancy between coaches and clubs. The clubs at the moment are against the closure of the market earlier but the coaches who are in charge of the team and need to prepare for their season, most of us vote in favour of an earlier closure of the transfer window," said Villas-Boas.

"Something has to be done," he insisted. "There will have to be further meetings between Uefa and the clubs."

Former Liverpool and Inter Milan manager Rafael Benitez, currently at the helm of Italian Serie A side Napoli, underlined the risk of losing key players as a season looms or is already under way.

"You prepare everything and one week after your players can be playing against you. So your can't prepare your tactics, your set pieces and everything. Because next week, maybe you play against them," he said.

"That's quite dangerous," he added.

But he acknowledged that it could be a struggle to find a consensus on a new closure date, given that different leagues kick off their seasons at different times.

"If you decide it will by Aug 15, maybe in Italy you're still not playing but in England you will have a chance. It's quite difficult for find a solution for everyone," Benitez explained.

"The idea of the coaches is that a little bit earlier would be better. Everyone was very clear. But the clubs still don't know if they will qualify for the Champions League and can spend more money signing players," he said.

"It's not easy. You can't know what's the best. They have to discuss this and they have to decide."

The managers' meeting at Uefa's Swiss headquarters also touched on issues including the away-goals rule, which accords more importance to a visiting club's score when teams draw on aggregate in a two-leg competition.

Benitez said there were differences of opinion, with many coaches believing it could be changed, but Villas-Boas said he was for the status quo.

"It has had a great impact in European football, so it's something that shouldn't be moved," he said.

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