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Thursday, 27 January 2011

You Are Not A Loan

We’ve all heard the myth. That deep in an underground bunker, somewhere beneath Richard Keys’s house, Sky took a timeless sport, the most popular sport on the planet, covered it in bells and whistles and whooshing logos and created football in 1992. They made Sundays ‘Super’ too.

Obsessed as they are with the concept of ‘breaking news’, it came as no surprise that the Sky behemoth has been all over transfer deadline day since its inception in 2002-03 like a fly around the proverbial. Which leads me to what we think about the transfer window.
When Deadline Day rears its brash and supercilious head twice a year, Sky Sports News goes into meltdown. Every ground in the country seemingly has its very own live-in Sky squatter and a competition ensues as to who can make news of a journeyman centre-back’s six-month loan to a mid-table League 2 side sound the most exciting. Once the inevitable creation of chain reaction transfers cranks into full effect, there is no denying that it makes for good TV – Warnock goes to Liverpool, meaning Konchesky goes to Fulham, meaning some poor bastard has to stand outside Villa Park in the pissing rain waiting for events totally out of his control to finish the most convoluted and inane three-piece jigsaw the world has ever known.

Surely all the introduction of a window does is make a culture of panic buying endemic? And isn’t that exactly what the football governing bodies want to clamp down upon? I can see no benefit to having to sell your star striker on deadline day because an offer too big to turn down has been tabled (see York’s Richard Brodie sold to Crawley Town for a fee believed to have been in the region of £300k back in August 2010) and then not be able to replace him because the window has slammed shut. In essence, you take your shiniest apple to market just to find that you only have enough time to visit the stinking onion stall on the way out to find a replacement.

Another notable problem with having a deadline day is that the intense media focus does nothing but encourage agents to be bigger bastards than usual, thus unsettling a sizeable amount of players and making managers and chairmen have a collective squeaky bum day up and down the country. Sincere statements of “I’m happy with my squad and don’t need to spend” have become the exception rather than the rule. Never will so many ‘sources close to the club’ crawl out of the woodwork.

So in the predictably frenetic build up to the close of this January’s window, what do we have? Luis Suarez to Liverpool? Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United? David Luiz to Chelsea? Nope. Emmanual Adebayor to Real Madrid. On loan. Madrid’s impulse buying has reached new heights, even by their own quite ridiculous standards. This is City's what, fourth choice striker? EVEN JO IS AHEAD OF HIM. Adebayor is not only lazier than someone who was christened João Alves de Assis Silva but could only be arsed to come up with a two-letter nickname, but he is also rather combustible. It’s not a perfect fit, and it is mostly explained by Champions League eligibility, but by such caveats are January deals done. The mantra “must do something by deadline day” clouds any seemingly logical judgement and the panic sets in. Everywhere.

Imagine the fury at Bloomfield Road if Liverpool actually do stump up anything resembling a fair transfer fee for Charlie Adam. So integral to Blackpool’s success has the Scot been this season that such a loss would put the Seasiders in genuine danger of facing the drop. Ian Holloway, meanwhile, knows full well he cannot turn down anything in the region of £10m for a player currently commanding an £8k a week pay packet. If the deal goes ahead on deadline day, Blackpool are, for want of more eloquent word, fucked. And it really isn’t fair.

The system suits a handful of clubs – the richest ones – as everyone else has to wait until the big boys conduct their business before they do. It is a reactive scenario for all but a select few. Or put another way, imagine if you needed a new hat in September but were told you had to wait until the hat window opened again in January. Or someone offered £60 for a hat you’d had for a while at 9pm on hat deadline day and you knew you‘d be an idiot not to take the money, even though it meant you’d be without a hat until May. Or… ok, you get the idea.

Steve Coppell agrees. “The old system, where if you had a problem you could look at loans or make a short-term purchase, was far better than this system we have at the moment.” Agreed Mr Coppell. Loans are good, honest agreements (unless you’re Jo at Everton. What is it with him?) and back in the ‘good old days’ they could be conducted all season rather than the arbitrary format in place now – for clubs from the Championship to the Conference this is February 8 to March 24. They also cut out the bits of football Sky fetishises the most: big money transfer fees, stratospheric wage packets, add-ons and the biggest shits of the lot, agents.

For Sky though, ANYONE to Real Madrid warrants feverish coverage. Anyone to anywhere does, for that matter. Anything that enables them to fill two otherwise dead news days with 24-hour rolling bollocks is given blanket coverage. So although Monday will see the Sky hype machine cranked up to 11, remember that few benefit under this system which stymies 99% of rational forethought in favour of “DON’T PANIC MR MAINWARING” alarm bell-ringing stupidity at many a club across the land. And don’t be surprised to see your 12-goal star striker leave at 11:59pm. You have been warned.

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