The tedium of the transfer window
By Ed Langford
The summers are getting longer. June and July have dragged themselves out even further than usual as we wait, increasingly restlessly, for it all to return.
Some of us pretend to care about athletics and golf when the sun’s out, whilst others try to ease the torture by scoring a fix with reruns of Premiership Years on Sky Sports.
Yet there remains an empty chasm within that we long to be filled with a relentless nine month deluge stuffed down our readily welcoming throats.
The football, of course, is what we want. It’s what the waiting is all about. The Saturday pre-match anticipation, the Champions League mid-weekers, the staying up until 1.30am on a Sunday morning to watch 30 second highlights of Torquay’s goalless draw at Northampton.
The football is what we’re hungry for, yet in the summer, when the action is scarce what we’re fed is a diet of murmurings, whispers and guesswork. Football’s rumour mill works in overdrive in an age of the transfer window. Ours is the generation of the gossip column.
The tiresome drip-feed of speculation, the snowballing of rumours, stone cold ‘facts’ based on “sources close to X” – the list goes on but it all equates to how football and football’s media spends its time during its supposed off season.
How this manifests is the constant will-they-won’t-they of the big names in the Premier League. Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez have dominated back pages and column inches this summer yet all three remain contracted to their original clubs with little to suggest they’re off anytime soon.
This year has been no different. Bale, Suarez and Rooney dominate the sports pages whilst very little has been said about the good work done by some of the smaller clubs. How Norwich, West Ham and Swansea have bought well, and how they've spent the extra television money in more intelligent ways than their Manchester and London based rivals.
The transfer window is less about actually supplying salient news, but more filling media space with rumours to satisfy the needs of the gossip hungry public.
And here’s the market for this, whether it’s Suarez’s supposed mood in pre-season or what Bale may have said to so and so behind closed doors, these non-news stories are what people are after. Daily bulletins of guesswork. It’s a simply a case of supply and demand.
The huffing and puffing of agents and players, of chairmen and journalists is part of football’s performance to its craving fan base. It’s even now been given its own timeframe, like a biannual run on the West End except with fewer musical numbers and more scenes located from Harry Redkanpp’s car window.
The tedious hearsay of football’s summer holiday is now a main stay of July through August with a winter run in January. Bereft of substance but churned out in quantity for those that feed off football’s off-season scraps.
In a world of the 24 hour news channel, of Twitter and the immediacy of information, football conforms by filling the void left by itself with speculation. The summers are getting longer. Just give me football.