Deadline Day – Worth the Hype?

In the end, transfer deadline day actually proved quite busy this year with Adam Johnson signing for Manchester City, Robbie Keane joining another of his boyhood clubs and my own team, West Ham, signing three strikers in a day.

But for much of the time the day was looking like yet another damp squib with TV hosts and bloggers everywhere searching for even the smallest of deals to report on.  It was during one of these quiet moments while running a deadline day “online chat” on my own website that I began to realise how silly it has all become.

It’s very easy to mock the way Sky Sports News cover the day with their gaggle of reporters standing outside training ground counting 4x4s go in and then go out again, but the seriousness they attach to the day does deserve ridicule.  This year their studio reporter had borrowed Andy Gray’s fancy computer and was seen scrolling round a carousel of players telling us the latest news of each one.

And heaven help us when a deal actually went through!

But it was, of course, not only Sky. The BBC website’s transfer day blog was up and running from 7am (how many footballers are even up at that hour?) while every football website worth its salt had some kind of live blog which mostly filled their time with general football talk rather than any actual transfer gossip.

But we all buy into it. We all tell our friends that someone on the BBC site has just seen Fernando Gago at Manchester airport, or that a car with the registration KEANO had just driven through the gates at Upton Park.  Maybe we enjoy it because we like to think it could be the day which changes the destiny of our club’s season, when it very rarely is. Or maybe it’s because we as fans love dreaming, if even for a moment, about the superstar who has been linked with our club.

The biggest indicator of how important “Deadline Day” really is comes from looking at the teams involved in the selling and buying, or more precisely the teams that weren’t.  Of the top seven clubs in the Premier League only two did business on February 1, Manchester City who have a manager still settling into his job and attempting to quickly put his own stamp on a team, and Tottenham who have a manager with a pathological aversion to keeping a settled squad.

None of the top three were even linked with a deal on Monday, with Manchester United quite sensibly wrapping up the signing of Fulham’s Chris Smalling last week when it could be done in a ordered manner away from the deadline day spotlight.  To me the last day frenzy has always been about teams who fail to plan properly, after all they’ve had the whole of January to do a deal so why wait until the final minutes.

And it’s also been about middling clubs desperate to make sure they don’t get dragged in to a relegation battle in the final months of the season and panic buying – note West Ham’s decision to add three strikers to their squad on Monday.  In the time before 24-hour sports news channels and football websites, deadline day, which was usually in March, used to pass off with a whimper and everyone got on with the important things such as the matches on the pitch.

But in the modern information age those days are long gone and unless FIFA and UEFA decide to abolish the transfer windows, deadline day chaos will continue to grow.

Cue Sky Sports News’ David Craig standing in a bleak car park in the north east telling us that Hartlepool have just signed a 19-year-old defender.

About author

Mark Segal
Mark Segal 7 posts

Mark is a journalist and online editor at ITV.com with over 10 years experience working for national media outlets. Recently wrote for FC Business Magazine on twitter in sport. You can follow him on @segalmark

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