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Transfer deadline day: Media insanity

By Bradley King



And so, it's finally here. The day that we've all been waiting for. Or so the likes of Sky Sports News would have us believe.

We'll all gather together in front of the roaring fire and huddle around the big screen, biting our finger nails until they're shorter than Eden Hazard's inbuilt ball boy-related fuse as Dharmesh Sheth taps away on his massive touch-screen beast like Spock in Star Trek.

Across urban metropolises worldwide, busy commuters will pause from their hectic jaunt to work to gaze in at electronics stores. There, thousands of televisions will emit Jim White's Botox-laden features as he downs another pack of Pro Plus tablets and screams at us, in ominous Armageddon-like discourse, that time is running out.

In exotic rainforests, as-yet undiscovered tribes will break off from worshipping the sun to witness an excitable Bryn Law and a small collection of feral youth outside Elland Road, ready to welcome a nondescript English journeyman.

And all this for what? To find out at midnight that Rob Hulse has signed for Millwall on loan until the end of the season, after the paperwork was thankfully completed on time. Phew. That was close.

Each year, viewers cross their fingers that transfer deadline day will be a highly exhilarating landmark in the season, with teams swapping players at a more rapid rate than Nigel Adkins' Southampton changed first-choice goalkeepers.

"Jim White just shouted that everything is going to kick off soon!" the edgy viewer screams, "He's just seen Ryan Taylor at the Madjeski Stadium!" Alas, even relatively tame transfer news like this rarely happens, leaving the audience feeling slightly misled by Sky's hyperbolic build-up.

Meanwhile, clubs and their managers face a day of excruciating uncertainty and non-stop scampering in a bid to strengthen their always-thin squads.

Doing deals on transfer deadline day is akin to the layperson heading to the shopping centre on Christmas Eve - you're asking for trouble. If what you want is sold out, or the outlet decides to shut up shop early, you're left having to make do with substandard gifts.

And for all the iPads of past transfer deadline days - Marouane Fellaini to Everton and Carlos Tevez to West Ham United to name but two - there are plenty of pairs of grandma-knitted socks.

Gareth Southgate and Middlesbrough thought that £10million was a fair price for Afonso Alves in 2008 while Benni McCarthy was touted as the poacher West Ham needed in 2010, before eventually having his contract terminated at a cost of £1.5million and zero goals.

If supporters and clubs rarely benefit from this free-for-all then who does? Apart from cash-hungry agents, whose sizeable bank balances are only matched by their sizeable egos, transfer deadline day is obviously the darling of the media.

Deadline day and the 24-hour news culture go hand-in-hand. For one day only, footage of a man walking into a building is not only considered to be acceptable coverage, but hugely newsworthy. If you miss it, don't worry - it will be played another seven times before the hour is up.

The only person who should be excited about Thursday's non-event is Jim White - a man who is so entrenched in the culture of the 24-hour sports news culture that he should change his middle names to 'Deadline Day'.

The rest of us should be glad to see the back of it on Friday morning. At least then we'll be safe from Harry Redknapp and his infamous car window, leaving us to forget the nonsense and get back to the on-pitch action.