Football: Slow sales show Premiership feeling the pinch, says PFA

THE PROFESSIONAL Footballers' Association believes the January transfer window underlined "the pinch" currently being felt by many Premiership clubs.

A total of more than pounds 60m was spent throughout the course of the month, excluding undisclosed deals, with only five transfers - out of 86 overall - comprising more than pounds 30m. Jean-Alain Boumsong was the most expensive capture, joining Newcastle from Rangers for pounds 8m, with Tottenham spending the same amount on the Nottingham Forest pair Andy Reid and Michael Dawson.

The next biggest deal was the pounds 7m which Manchester City picked up from Fenerbahce for Nicolas Anelka, while Liverpool paid pounds 6.3m to Real Madrid for the striker Fernando Morientes, while their Merseyside rivals Everton splashed out pounds 6m on James Beattie.

Yet almost half of all transfers were loans, which the PFA's deputy chief executive, Mick McGuire, maintains is an upward trend as clubs are opting to borrow players rather than spend on big-money transfers.

"I don't think there's been a lot of movement. It's been steady throughout the month," McGuire said. "Around 40 of those were loans, with only 18 for money, although there were a number of undisclosed deals which are likely to be for nominal sums.

"There were only 15 moves on the last day, which is not a great number. If you look at it, there were one or two deals on each day and then a big crash at the end.

"I remember come the final day of a transfer window they used to pour in. I think the Premier League is feeling the pinch and going for short- term fixes to help them out. We are seeing more and more loans, with players going from Premier League clubs to Football League clubs, which is quite often to give younger players opportunities.

"It is what you would expect at a time when there are re-adjustments at Premier League clubs who are feeling the pinch so they can be flexible and remain committed financially."

Following the departure of Reid and Dawson to Tottenham on Monday, Nottingham Forest have confirmed their interest in the Rotherham goalkeeper Mike Pollitt. Forest manager Gary Megson has tabled an undisclosed bid for the Millmoor keeper.

Meanwhile, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo are among five players who are chasing the latest FA Cup player-of-the-round award. The pair, who played starring roles during the 3-0 victory for United over Middlesbrough last Saturday, will compete against Southampton's Peter Crouch, whose penalty sealed victory over Portsmouth, Burnley's Ian Moore, who scored both goals in the win over Bournemouth, and Yeovil's Kevin Gall, who impressed in his side's 3-2 defeat to Charlton. The shortlisted players are chosen by a national media panel including The Independent, and voting takes place on the Football Association's website.

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