THE transfer window can be a strange place. Ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline, plenty will be said and written about potential deals, but what does it all mean? And why is the language so bloody impenetrable? To help you cope, here’s a handy A to Z guide…


Refers to something that is almost certainly not going to happen. Is normally followed by “bid”, although can also relate to an “approach” or an “offer”. An “audacious bid” has to be “launched”, and is usually “laughed off”. If it is especially outlandish, it can be “dismissed out of hand”.


A useful way of tarting up information that has been knocking about for ages, but that has developed a slightly different twist. Has much more impact if it is written in CAPITAL LETTERS, or in a televisual setting, accompanied by flashing lights and a wooshing sound. A staple of Deadline Day (in association with Sky Sports).


A cornerstone of many a transfer story. Provides irrefutable proof that a player wants to leave a certain club, even if the player in question isn’t even sure himself that he’s making such a statement. By transfer window law, a “come and get me plea” has to be “flashed”. It can never simply be ‘said’ or ‘stated’.


The only way for a club to describe a transfer offer that is deemed to be too low. Both managers and chairmen can make the assessment, although they must “brand” a bid as derisory rather than just say that is the case. The offer will subsequently be “rejected” – never just turned down – and the interested party will be “invited” to “return to the table” with a higher bid.


A mysterious quirk of the regulations that no one quite understands, but that only ever relates to goalkeepers. Prevents clubs having to “turn” to an “untried shot-stopper” when their senior goalkeepers are injured. Tends to be regarded as a “last resort” and requires “formal permission” from the FA.


A transfer-window favourite that has just about had its day, but that still reappears sporadically despite no new fax machine having been sold in this country since 1987. Tends to rear its head when clubs scramble to “push through” a deal in the final few seconds of the transfer window. Only “club secretaries” are allowed to use the fax machine.

The Northern Echo: A fax machine


The transfer window’s nod to Phil and Kirsty. A deal that has already been agreed between two clubs can be “gazumped” by a third club at any stage before it is signed off. It is bad enough when a club is “pipped to the post” for a player, but to be “gazumped” is infinitely worse. Either way, a “transfer setback” ensues.


Why simply say that a player is not for sale when you can “issue” a “hands-off warning” instead? Like a “come and get plea”, a “hands-off warning” can be “flashed”, although “issuing” one tends to give it more impact. Can relate to players or managers, and can often result in a transfer “wrangle” if it is not heeded.


Can literally mean anything from being loosely aware of a player’s name to driving him all the way up the M1 for a clandestine meeting in a Little Chef. “Interest” in a player is usually “sparked”, and can develop into “strong interest” after a couple of successful “scouting missions”. If the “interest” is not followed through, it “cools” before it is eventually “dropped”.


Players who fall out of favour are never simply sold, they are “jettisoned” from the first-team squad. The “jettisoning” can be at the manager’s discretion – often because the player in question has “clashed” with his boss – or can be as a result of financial pressures. In that scenario, the player is “jettisoned” to “trim” the wage bill.

The Northern Echo:


A transfer budget is not simply a number written on a piece of paper. It is a “transfer kitty” or occasionally a “transfer pot”, which a manager can “dip into” as he sees fit. If it is especially large, the “kitty” becomes a “transfer war chest”, which signifies a large amount of activity is imminent. The “kitty” is determined by the chairman, who “holds the purse strings”.


If two parties involved in a transfer situation do not agree, they are immediately “at loggerheads”. Can relate to different clubs arguing over a player, or a club’s “hierarchy” holding contract talks with a player’s representatives. If the dispute becomes especially heated, it can normally only be resolved by a “bout” of “clear-the-air talks”.


Clubs do not “watch” a transfer target, they “monitor” them. A low level of “interest” tends to demand no more than “keeping tabs” on a particular player, but once that interest goes up a level or two, the “monitoring” stage is activated. Clubs often “continue to monitor” a player, even if a proposed deal falls through.


Has become the only acceptable forensic assessment of a club’s transfer activity. Calculating “net spend” can be difficult in the era of the “undisclosed fee”, but it is generally held that a “negative net spend” is unacceptable, and an “exorbitant net spend” is a sign of largesse. Somewhere in between is the ideal.

The Northern Echo: Newcastle owner Mike Ashley (right) with managing director Lee Charnley


One player arriving or leaving is a “signing” or a “sale”. Two or three either way represents “tinkering with the squad”. Any more than that, though, and a manager is “overseeing” an “overhaul”. “Overhauls” tend to be “radical”, and often occur in the first transfer window after a manager has been appointed.


Have to be “agreed”, and tend to be one of the final things signed off before a player “puts pen to paper” on his contract. Are often “finalised” at around the same time a player “undergoes” his medical. Occasionally, transfers can “collapse” because of a “snag” with the “personal terms”. This tends to be because agents are making “excessive wage demands”.


If a player suddenly becomes available, then “interested parties” have to form a “queue”. Where this metaphorical “queue” begins and ends is generally unclear, but clubs “jostle for position” to get to the “head” of it. A selling club will encourage the existence of a “queue”, as it tends to “spark” a “bidding war” for their player.


Doesn’t necessarily mean something is “ruled in”, but tends to be used as transfer-market shorthand for the same. “Refusing to rule out” an “interest” in something is often a manager’s way of refusing to answer a question directly. Tends to be slightly less concrete than the “issuing of a come and get me plea”, but often leads to the same conclusions.


If two parties have been at “loggerheads” for a while, and an initial round of “clear-the-air talks” has not worked, the next stage in the resolution process is a series of “showdown talks”. They tend to be “hastily-arranged”, and normally involve a manager “laying down the law” to his player. If “showdown talks” fail, the submission of a “formal transfer request” normally follows.


Once a “queue” of clubs is reduced to just two, they immediately become involved in a “transfer tug-of-war”. A “three-way-tug-of-war” is not unknown, but a straight head-to-head is much more common. The “tug-of-war” tends to be more focused and clinical than a “transfer tussle”, although if tensions become enflamed, a “transfer dogfight” can ensue.


New signings are never revealed. Nor are new managers. They are always “unveiled”, preferably at a “hastily-arranged introductory press conference”. No transfer is ever official until the new arrival has been pictured on his club’s pitch, waving a scarf above his head. Preferably in a club shirt, with his new number on the back.


Transfer “valuations” tend to come in the form of “price tag” that is “slapped” on a “player’s head”. Buying clubs tend to start with a “derisory” valuation before eventually coming up with an “acceptable offer”. Selling clubs start by insisting they “do not want to sell at any price” before eventually relenting when receiving an offer “they could not turn down”.


We might live in a world of high technology, but any self-respecting manager still has a “wanted list” tucked away in the top drawer of his desk. The “wanted list” is topped by his “leading target”, and has to be “submitted” to the “club hierarchy” at the start of the transfer window. By the end of the window, a succession of names will have been “scrubbed off” the list.


The player at the top of a manager’s “wanted list” tends to be his “X-Factor” signing. Every club seems to be on the look-out for a player with the “X-Factor”, although no one seems to be able to say quite what that means. Once a deal goes through, a manager than has to work out how to “accommodate” his “X-factor” player without them becoming a “luxury signing”.


Transfer shorthand for anyone under the age of about 24. Signing a “youngster” is generally regarded to have risks attached, especially if they are “untried”. The “youngster” is a polar opposite to the “veteran”, who is generally a more “seasoned” alternative. “Youngsters” tend to come with a high “sell-on value” and often form part of a “long-term project”.


Falling asleep yet? Well don’t. Because whatever else happens this month, you have to buy in to the idea that the transfer window is anything but boring. It isn’t. It’s a rollercoaster ride of “come and get pleas”, “hands-off warnings” and transfer “tug-of-wars”. Get ready for the window to close on January 31. Except, of course, we all know transfer windows don’t close. They always “slam shut”.