As the transfer window draws to a close this weekend, what can business learn from the beautiful game? And vice versa.

You probably think it’s a strange topic for a “burd” (to quote an old favourite footie star), but I love football. I have done since I was a wee tot, learning to read the football scores on TV at teatime.

Bearing in mind my formative years were spent in Manchester, I had to learn to read both Premiership and SPL team names. I watched eagerly for Rangers’ results, my first team and then those of Manchester United, my English team. My dad, a sports journalist, used to encourage my interest, cultivate my knowledge. He taught me the intricacies, the subtleties and the rules of the beautiful game, as well as the obscenities, songs and memorable referee insults, of course.

Doubtless if he were alive today he, as a qualified referee, would have relished the irony that Scottish match officials are sponsored by Specsavers. As a terrific goalkeeper in his heyday (nicknamed the “Black Cat”), however, I suspect he might be less impressed by the current trend for diving and false claims.

Thanks to my dad I understand the offside rule clearly. I know about long balls, lobs and crosses, what makes a foul shy and what constitutes a straight red. I love the tension of penalty kicks, and would actually like to see the rules changed to cut out extra time and go straight to penalty kicks in the event of a draw. And despite my hereditary blue nose I can be relatively impartial too, recognising and praising good play from opposing teams and willing any Scottish club to victory in Europe.

But as managers, players and, perhaps most greedily, agents prepare for the transfer window to close again it made me wonder what, if anything, business can learn from football’s operating practices – and vice versa.

There are obvious similarities. Clubs, like businesses, can make – and lose – lots of money. A manager – football or business – has objectives, goals, stakeholders, financiers, customers, staff, and has to contend with juggling (not literally, of course) lots of balls.

The fans/customers want a result. The staff/players work hard to deliver, and the financiers and stakeholders want a return on their investment. There’s a huge amount of training, coaching and people development required in both. Teamwork is paramount.

The manager has to take responsibility and go if the team doesn’t deliver, but therein lies my first challenge. Why is it only the manager? He is responsible for picking the team, but they’ve got to keep up their end too.  Surely it’s just as important that they meet their objectives? In business there are appraisals and personal development interviews. What’s the football equivalent? A dressing room dressing down?

If business were given just two brief opportunities a year to recruit the best staff, how different would our recruitment and retention policies be? Managers and coaches in both business and football are given a brief to get results every time, but what if business managers were able to sideline those that have the skill but not the motivation and to substitute the ones who have given their all with those of fresh mind and renewed energy? What would the employment lawyers make of the threat of the sack if your business fails to score? How about an independent “referee” who decides what’s fair for your business and has the right to book or send off those he doesn’t think have played by the rules?  How would a top flight CEO fare when hundreds of thousands of customers are baying for his resignation?

But just as there are elements of the business of football that would give a much-needed kick up the arse to business, there are elements that, to me, just don’t make sense (and that means a lot, since I understand the offside rule). I genuinely think football could learn here from business.

The most frustrating, and incomprehensible, bit is the football club’s approach to key players. As soon as they are good enough, they sell them.  Am I naïve, or am I just being a girl? Since when did getting rid of your best team member, your key player, your most valuable asset, become the key to success?

I appreciate natural wastage – Davie Weir, God love him, is desperately hard-working but getting too old and Christian Dailly, well he was just too old – but recognising when it’s time to stop is just as important in business. Look at Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist, great players but they clearly knew the time to hang up their playing boots, put on a coaching hat and give something back to their clubs and their fans.

But while a player is at the top of his game, surely it makes sense to keep them in front of the team? Perhaps someone could explain to me why money in the bank – albeit to buy new, younger players – is more valuable than a top player at the peak of his ability who can transform a good team into an outstanding team?

As a Gers fan, I was gutted when Alan Hutton left Ibrox (or was he pushed?) to join Spurs and equally sad to see Carlos Cuellar head south. As a Gers fan, I won’t be gutted when Artur Boruc and Aiden McGeady leave Celtic to join United, Liverpool, Barca, whoever, as they surely will – and soon.

So as the football agents spend their last few hours frantically trying to squeeze a few more thousand into their deals before the window slams shut until the summer, why not have a look at your business from a football perspective; is there a member of staff you’d like to red card, or better still, transfer to the competition? Is there an employee performing outstandingly every day that you need to keep? And as a manager, will your customers want you to stay – or go?

Perhaps you should ask yourself: what would Walter do?