Islands in the Sun

Last Saturday’s Champions League final was an appropriately epic shebang to mark the end of Europe’s football season. Well, I say the end, but not if you’re living in Scandinavia, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Baltic states, or Ireland where your season is just getting underway. For most of us though that’s it. We’ve a three week hiatus now until the World Cup kicks in. Just enough time to do those weekend jobs we’ve been putting off since, er, last August, and more than enough time so it seems for our tabloid journalists to go into overdrive about which players are going to sign for which clubs over the summer.

Ah yes, the transfer window. It’s back. The last one officially ended on February 1st but it doesn’t really feel like the damned thing ever went away does it? It’s like a persistently chronic bout of piles. We only ever have mild periods of limited regression before that dreadful itching starts up again. The next one’s not actually supposed to start until July 1st but the journos are full of it already, filling their columns with great authority on which holding midfielder’s agent your club is in final talks with, which part of London your out of favour goalkeeper is definitely buying a new house in, and which incoming foreign mercenary is set to ‘smash’ your club’s rigid wage structure. Forgive me for saying it, but it’s all such a … yawn.

It’s difficult to understand why a phenomenon that should be so thrilling and captivating is nothing more than a pain in the arse (yes, I’ll keep the piles metaphor going if it’s all the same).


This biannual borefest contains the same tired old chestnuts every time. For instance, the epic on/off, will-he/won’t-he saga of some club’s star player having his head turned by foreign suitors. Cesc Fabregas’ yes/no/maybe/perhaps/oh-no-I-couldn’t-possibly/oh-go-on-then protracted move from Arsenal to Barcelona over ten transfer windows from 2007 to 2011 was probably responsible for the felling of hundreds of thousands of trees by itself. Now there’s talk of him coming back to Arsenal. Oh purleease, no. Don’t expect actual movement on this any time before 2018.

The last two transfer windows have featured Liverpool’s Luis Suarez in this role. He’s not going anywhere. He’s going to Real Madrid. He’s going to Arsenal. He’s not going anywhere. He’s training with the kids. He’s giving it a few more months. He’s going in January. No he’s not. He’s footballer of the year. He’s going in the summer. He’s not. He is. He’s staying. No. Yes. He’s going to Madrid. He’s injured. His World Cup’s over. He’s off to PSG/Madrid/Barcelona/Man City for eight hundred million bitcoins.

Then there’s the forty-seven players Chelsea are going to send out on loan, the eighteen Spanish stars jetting in to sign for Manchester City, and that old staple, ‘Arry’s wheeler dealing. Queens Park Rangers, Harry Redknapp’s current employer, will surely be celebrating next year’s return to the Premier League with an orgy of such wheeled deals, and if they don’t, well don’t blame the tabloids for not whipping up enough frenzy about it all.

Casting our eyes across the continent we can see at a glance that in certain places the madness is even more severe. In Spain, for example. We must surely brace ourselves for the annual summer ritual of Real Madrid and Barcelona trying to outdo each other in buying the shiniest, most expensive bauble on the market, regardless of whether or not it’s needed and irrespective of the fact they don’t actually have any money. The Spanish daily sports papers incessantly wind the masses into a tizz with transfer gossip to the point that the presidents of these clubs simply have to deliver the goods no matter what the cost.

Gareth Bale, a ninety million euro bargain in last summer’s will-he/won’t-he/he’s-not-for-sale/well-ok-then-yes-he-is saga was the last plaything served up at Madrid. In Catalonia, we had the spectacle of Barcelona settling for the faintly ridiculous purchase of Brazilian Neymar for the very ridiculous fee of eighty-six million euros. The fact only seventeen million euros of this fee went to Neymar’s former club Santos was pivotal in bringing down Barca president Sandro Rosell under a flood of corruption allegations. Standard fare in Spain all this.

Vagur,_faroe_islands,_football_fieldViewed from this perspective, though our tabloids may get a little too creative in their musings at times, the ins and outs at our Premier League clubs are merely quaint in comparison.

For the record, the window’s not due to shut again until September 1st. If the thought of all that really is too much for you maybe you should go and spend your summer in the Faroe Islands. I’m reliably informed they don’t bother themselves with such things. Sensible people.



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