IN the past two years, Accrington Stanley have had four transfer embargoes, Burnley two. We know this not because either club decided to tell their fans, but because on most occasions there was a puzzling lack of signings and questions started to be asked.
It is said that all publicity is good publicity, but football clubs have long since decided that rule does not apply to embargoes.
Few secrets are as closely guarded as those involving financial problems. But if there is one thing that fans don’t like, apart from Joey Barton of course, it is being kept in the dark by their club – to whom they pay large chunks of their own hard-earned cash each season.
When Burnley had their transfer embargoes because of unpaid transfer fees during their promotion campaign, the first public admission came after the club had won the play-off final at Wembley.
By then, the embargoes had gone and the fact that they existed in the first place only appeared to make their achievement seem all the more remarkable. Hence the admission.
At Stanley, the club has been equally reluctant to tell their fans until a question was asked.
The Football League is correct to impose a transfer embargo on clubs who owe money, and the rules were tightened again in the summer.
Greg Clarke, the league’s chairman, is clearly committed to making clubs run on a more sustainable basis.
But there should be one more change to the regulations. An announcement should have to be made, either by the league or the club, when an embargo comes into force – and later when it is lifted.
People who are short of money do not want to tell the world about it. Stanley’s financial crisis last year displayed that beyond any doubt.
But supporters deserve to know. If clubs will not tell them, someone else should.