Are WPL sides unfairly disadvantaged by the transfer window?

The transfer window closed well over three months ago but some Welsh Premier League clubs are losing players to lower level sides, are WPL sides unfairly disadvantaged by the transfer window?

Over the past week, two first-team players that I’m aware of have departed their clubs as Tom Donegan and Darren Thomas moved onto pastures new.

The most recent of those moves is Tom Donegan – an attacking midfielder who began the season very much in the plans of Rhyl manager Gareth Owen before falling out of favour of late. You can understand Owen’s decision, as the Lilywhites have improved on their performances of late after making changes to their side, but reading between the lines it would seem that Donegan was dissatisfied with his lack of starts and as he (speculatively) was not on contract he was able to release himself.

If my assumptions are correct then Gareth Owen now finds himself short of a proven WPL player for the closing stages of the first phase of the league season. Donegan meanwhile, now a free agent, can re-register with a club and it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up next whether in the WPL or Cymru Alliance.

Ian Hughes at Aberystwyth Town finds himself in a similar situation after Darren Thomas departed the Seasiders to return to his former club, Cymru Alliance challengers Caernarfon Town. The Aber boss was clearly pleased when he landed Thomas last summer and the 28-year-old made the left wing position his own before the player opted to return to the Canaries. Aberystwyth, like Rhyl, have had their squads unexpectedly depleted right at a vital stage of the season. 

At present, Welsh Premier League clubs cannot register any new players except for free agents until the January transfer window – this is mirrored across top-flight leagues throughout the world and is not something that I am against. This issue here is that the transfer window does not apply to those clubs playing below the WPL and those teams are able to recruit any WPL player providing they are not on contract at any given time.  

The majority of WPL clubs do not have the financial muscle to place their entire squads on contract – a contracted player will be entitled to a wage whether he plays or is injured which simply isn’t sustainable for most sides, while those players on signed on a ‘non-contract’ can be recruited by any club after a seven-day request to speak to the player has been submitted. Essentially, any player who is dissatisfied with losing his place or unsettled at a WPL club can freely move to a lower level club in Wales or England providing he is not on contract, and his WPL team are completely powerless to stop him leaving.

One nameless WPL manager recently told me of a scenario earlier this season in the League Cup. He had several selection worries for the midweek fixture yet another club, from outside the WPL, were able to recruit and register a player on the day of the game to play in exactly the same competition. You can understand his frustrations and hopefully this disparity is something which will be challenged and addressed through the proper channels in the not too distant future.

I’d be interested to hear the views and opinions of those against the idea of introducing the transfer window below the top-flight, you can of course remain anonymous.

Tomorrow this very blog will be the matchday sponsor of tomorrow’s fixture between Aberystwyth Town and Port Talbot. I’m very much looking forward to making the trip up to Park Avenue and hopefully will have been able to support one or two other WPL clubs in a similar manner come the end of the season.

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