Premier League and Football League clubs in England have until 11pm on Tuesday 31 January to sign new players.
There's Premier League games being played that night — and the day after! Will players be allowed to play immediately?
Not so fast. Players have to be registered with the league before midday on the day before a match. So any late night signings will have to wait until the weekend to run out in their new colours. Maybe not such a bad thing if you've barely shaken hands with your new teammates.
How is a player registered?
League offices will be staffed by regulatory experts who go through any transfer's relevant documentation to ensure a deal complies with its and the Football Association's rules.
What about loan signings — aren't they allowed after the deadline?
It used to be the case that teams in the Championship and below could make reinforcements by signing players on an "emergency loan" for up to 93 days.
Thanks to Fifa, that's no longer the case this season. The only exception is if a club does not have a senior goalkeeper who has made five first-team appearances on your books, in which case they are permitted to sign a keeper on a week-long emergency loan.
Will China and other countries stop spending at the same time?
Nope. Major European leagues in Germany, France, Spain and Italy all shut their transfer windows at the same time as England, but teams in the Chinese Super League — who have appeared particularly eager to pay big money for Premier League stars this transfer window — can keep writing cheques until February 28.
What do clubs need to do before completing a transfer?
For Fifa to ratify a transfer between two clubs in different countries, it must be entered into Fifa's Transfer Matching System (TMS) before their association's deadline. The system is designed to prevent future disputes between the clubs, by ensuring the terms of a transfer match for both parties. If it does, Fifa gives the concerned Football Associations the green light to register the player.
Clubs often employ external legal teams to work around the clock in the final days to ensure all the terms and conditions are all tied up in time for the deadline.
OK, but why do some deals not get confirmed until late at night?
If two English clubs are thrashing out a deal late until the night, and there are one or two complications preventing them from submitting the full paperwork before the deadline, from 9pm clubs may fill out a "deal sheet" including all the key information and confirming that a deal has been reached.
They are then until 1am to finish getting the full paperwork to the Premier League. International transfers do not get this luxury.
When are players cup tied in Europe and when are they not?
A team in the Champions League or Europa League can register three new players for the knockout phase, one of whom can have played in the group stage of the other competition - i.e a Champions League team may register a player for the last 16 who played in the Europa League group stage.
However, clubs need to work quickly on any last-gasp signings — registration with Uefa must be completed by February 1.
What are the rules for international players who need a work permit?
Players from outside the European Economic area have to be deemed "internationally established at the highest level" and capable of making a "significant contribution" before being granted a work permit by the FA.
This is decided by the percentage of international matches a players has appeared in for his country over the previous 24 months (or 12 months for players aged 21 or younger).
The percentage of matches a player must have appeared in over the last two years increases the lower ranked his nation is:
|Fifa ranking||Required percentage of international matches over previous 24 months|
|1-10||30 per cent or more|
|11-20||45 per cent or more|
|21-30||60 per cent of more|
|31-50||75 per cent or more|