Munich - Last-minute phonecalls, frantic plane journeys, tense negotiations and a scramble for players’ signatures are generally what characterise the final day of the winter transfer window.

Signing of new players at the halfway stage can have a great impact on the outcome of clubs' seasons, but this year all deals have to be signed and sealed by 18.00 CET on Wednesday, 31 January 2013. It means a hectic last few hours for all involved.

Strict rules


There are two periods per Bundesliga season in which contracted players may be transferred between clubs, the first being in the summer - 1 July until 31 August - and the second in the month of January. When a player is transferred, his name is added to the official transfer list, which is regulated by the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga.

The DFL must be notified by clubs who wish to add a player’s name to the list by 12.00 CET on the final day of the window. The next deadline to be met is at 18.00 CET, by which time all contract terms have to be agreed and signed by the respective parties and the entire deal ratified definitively by the DFL.

Considerable paperwork


The official transfer list is updated daily by the DFL. As soon as the agreed contracts are submitted to the League Association, the player’s name is then removed from the transfer list. The transfers that took Federico Macheda to VfB Stuttgart or Michel Bastos to FC Schalke 04 may have seemed straightforward, but they did not transpire without a significant amount of paperwork, negotiation and hard work.

It is therefore an unusually busy time for the clubs and players in Germany. Yet the mammoth effort to rush through last-minute transfers is often worth it. Not only can a new star striker or defensive bulwark inspire fans, they can also, in the best-case scenario, enhance a club’s ability to realise their ambitions in the final few months of a campaign - whether a Bundesliga title, European qualification or staving off relegation is the aim.

Worth the risk


For example, Martin Stranzl established his reputation immediately after joining Borussia Mönchengladbach in the winter of the 2010/11 season. The defender helped reduce the team’s ‘goals conceded’ tally from 47 in the Hinrunde to just 18 after the winter break, whereupon they stayed in the top flight after a relegation play-off victory against VfL Bochum. Similar was the story of FC Augsburg’s Ja-Cheol Koo, who scored five goals and assisted two after arriving from VfL Wolfsburg, as die Schwaben survived relegation last term.

This month, Augsburg have recruited a compatriot of Koo in Dong-Won Ji as they attempt to pull off another great escape, while Greuther Fürth, Fortuna Düsseldorf and 1899 Hoffenheim have all added five new players to their respective ranks. Signing players at this hectic time can be a risk, but in the end it can be what defines a club’s entire season.

Bernie Reeves