Written by Lucy Williams (@lucyletsloose)
Eleven years have now passed since the advent of the transfer window system; a system which caused a backlash from those at the top in British football. Even though the majority of managers still bemoan its supposedly disruptive existence, fans have come to embrace it with open arms, and this is primarily because of the media frenzy that occurs on the last day of the window, otherwise known as transfer deadline day.
Friday 31st January 2014 was the last day of this season’s January window, and Sky Sports News once again transformed this day into a source of unbridled excitement. Over the years, Sky’s coverage has caused the day’s proceedings to be comparable to the last day of a General Election with the past month’s events coming to a dramatic climax complete with golden banners and a ticking clock. Somewhat of a biannual national event, it has football fans all over the nation glued to the sofa and armed with a sky remote.
As a Glasgow Rangers fan, my January deadline day this year offered no promise of any thrilling last-minute sprees. However, whether your club is in the thick of the action or looking quietly on at the side lines, the event always proves to be a great spectacle thanks to those at Sky Sports, and there are five things which made this January’s deadline day as entertaining as ever:
(1) As always, the reporters at various training grounds and stadiums did a sterling job standing all day in miserable conditions only to report once every hour to the studio. Every time Nick Collins broadcast from the Emirates, I shamefully hoped for another spectacular fall like we saw outside Wembley in the summer, but sadly my cruel wishes were not answered. Conversely, it was the ever-present hoard of grinning fans standing behind reporters that provided the hilarity of the day’s events.
At Loftus Road, we had a small three-man crew led by a 13-year-old in a flat cap. Looking like an extra from an Oliver production, the ring leader rarely left the reporters side and was often seen with a phone to his ear. One can only imagine what was being said-‘Mum I’m on the Tele!’ Moving on to Crystal Palace’s training ground, the reporter Paul Gilmour seemed to be in the middle of a scene from a horror movie; a gang of youths loomed in the dark and edged ever closer into camera light as the broadcast progressed. Meanwhile, at Stoke, more and more fans hoping to achieve illustrious SSN fame gathered behind reporter Rob Dorsett as the day went on. Looking as bright as Stoke City’s transfer prospects, the gang of fans resembled zombies at the dawn of the Apocalypse, and, as it cut back to the studio you could not help but think they were about to pounce on poor Rob. Yet, during one broadcast, there was a sole joyful Stoke fan who bopped about at the back holding up a sign reading: ‘Jim White for Prime Minister’- an appealing notion indeed.
(2) Philip Schofield may be the silver fox of daytime TV, but, when it comes to sports coverage, Jim White is a silver fox of epic proportion. To many viewers, deadline day would just not be the same without the slick Scotsman at the helm and this January was no different.
Gathering more attention than the transfer deals themselves, bets were being taken on Jim White from what his first cliché would be down to the colour of his tie. Colour coordinated to perfection with his partner Natalie Sawyer, Mr White took to his presenting role at 8pm donning the brightest yellow tie known to man, and, the speculation of when he might spontaneously combust began as he rattled off his sentences at 100mph. His enthusiasm for events, no matter how lacklustre they actually were, was admirable, and, with a little help from his tie, he really did shine in comparison to the other ‘football minds’ in the studio. Luckily, Charlie Nicholas made only a brief appearance, since it is hard to take anything seriously from a man who is still trying and failing to pull off the over 50s earring look. Unfortunately, Simon Jordan and John Collins stuck around for most of the night, and contributed nothing of any interest. The excessive amounts of gel on Jordan’s hair had obviously soaked through to his brain as he expressed inane opinion after inane opinion, and, to be quite honest, Collins seemed to be on another planet entirely. All I can say is thank goodness for Jim White!
White has become so synonymous with deadline day that it has become affectionately known as #JimWhiteDay on Twitter. People were even tweeting pictures of themselves wearing Jim White masks. Now that’s dedication for you!
(3) The Twitterverse comes alive on deadline day and Friday provided us with some excellent quips of both the intentional and unintentional kind. Most notably, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted praise for Fulham for signing Konstantinos Mitroglo, the star man of Olympiacos, the team United next face in the Champions League. Rio seemed to have forgotten that his team face Fulham next weekend, or perhaps he is cleverer than we thought, and, instead rightfully acknowledging the fact that the Champions League is the only trophy United have any glimmer of hope in attaining this season.
The twitter account of AFC Wimbledon also provided some laughs by updating their fans with events taking place outside the office. The most significant movement of the day was that of the safety officer Phil who completed a deal to bring in a sandwich AND a steak bake for under a fiver. Marvellous work Phil, marvellous work! However, the real star of deadline day on Twitter was not Phil of AFC Wimbledon fame or Rio Ferdinand or even Jim White for that matter, but instead it was a certain female presenter by the name of Kate Abdo.
(4) Without wanting to permit distasteful ogling over the attractive female Sky Sports presenters, Kate Abdo was certainly a highlight of Friday’s coverage. Previously a member of the Sky team in Germany, Abdo has only recently started hosting on Sky Sports News in the UK, and she has certainly made an impression.
Incorporating with the colour scheme of the day, she pulled off a bright yellow dress with ease, and, shattering the ‘bimbo babe’ stereotype of the female SSN cohort, she pronounced many a foreign name with ease since she is fluent in four languages. On a show virtually reeking of testosterone, the women of the day did an impressive job in representing for the girls. Whether it was Kirsty Gallacher, Sawyer or Abdo in the studio, or the female reporters at stadiums and grounds, there was rarely a slip up and never a dull moment, something that cannot be said for the strange pundit duo of Jordan and Collins for example.
Setting my feminist ways aside, I shall admit that Abdo, although not just a pretty face, was definitely the eye candy of the event, and many fans tweeted that she was by far the best signing of the day.
(5) On a day where presenters overshadowed the actual signings, it was not the liveliest of deadline days, nevertheless, there was some action that captured interest. With less than ten points separating the bottom half of the table, Fulham and Crystal Palace look eager to reach safety as they were the busiest premier league clubs with the acquisition of five players each. Championship high flyers QPR also signed 5 players with their eye firmly set on an immediate return to the Premiership. Unfortunately, there were no true deadline day fashion appearances from manager Harry Redknapp leaning from a car window, but I’m sure he will have a great comeback in August.
On a day where the top clubs remained relatively silent, Arsenal’s signing of Swede midfielder Kim Kallstrom was perhaps the biggest move, but one cannot help but think the underwhelming signing was merely Arsene Wenger’s way of trying to appease the club’s notoriously niggling fans. Ironically, the real meaty action of the day was not a transfer but a sacking. With little information offered on the reasoning, Brian McDermott was fired as Leeds manager on Friday evening as the club is in the midst of an Italian takeover; no less than half an hour later before the sacking, star player and captain Ross McCormack expressed his wishes to stay at the club and play under McDermott. It was an incredible decision to make on not only deadline day for the club, but also the eve of a Yorkshire derby. However, as we go to print, McDermott has apparently not been fired and will remain Leeds manager…the drama rumbles on.
So whether it was the shock supposed sacking, pristine presenting, fan foolery or the twitter takeover, deadline day had something for everyone and still proves to be a great frenzied addition to the footballing world. No doubt Jim White is already gearing up for the next one in August already!