Despite a distinct lack of football to watch, transfer deadline day is one of the most frustratingly exciting days of the football season.
You know it’s that time of year again when the big timer on Sky Sports News looms large in the corner of the screen, counting the hours, minutes and seconds until the transfer window slams shut and you finally realise that your club hasn’t quite managed to pull off the signing of that superstar striker as exclusively revealed in The Sun last week.
Or the constant refreshing of your chosen ‘DEADLINE DAY-LIVE NEWS FEED’, even though your computer does this automatically for you. Message boards and Twitter feeds are ablaze with inside information from a mate of somebody’s dad’s uncle that Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey has been spotted getting out of a taxi near your club’s training ground, pen in hand, to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a last-minute deal.
The panic, chaos and confusion adds to the tension and excitement of deadline day, as late loan deals, big-money transfers and player exchanges are rushed through with just seconds to go. Despite having two months to conclude their transfer business, clubs often wait until the final day of the sales in a high-risk strategy aimed at picking up cut-price deals in the transfer market. Which in-turn can have a domino effect on other transfer deals.
There has certainly been some exciting signings on transfer deadline day in recent years; Manchester City’s new owners wasted no time in smashing the British transfer record within hours of taking over the club with the £32.5m capture of Robinho from Real Madrid in 2008. While West Ham’s double deal to take Argentine duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to Upton Park in 2006 was arguably the most astonishing of all.
Yet it’s the signings that go right to the wire that create the most controversy. Tottenham’s sensational £8m deal to land Dutch star Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid on Tuesday was only reported on news channels five minutes before the window was due to slam shut. Over 24 hours later it was still unclear if the Premier League had ratified the move, allowing Van der Vaart to complete his transfer to North London. So when does the transfer window actually close?
It is believed the deal for the Holland international was allowed to go through because the necessary paperwork needed by Spurs to complete the deal could not be processed in time, due to technical difficulties in their negotiations with Real Madrid. I think Harry Redknapp mentioned something about a dodgy fax machine he bought down the market, or something along those lines. The Premier League took a day to evaluate these claims however and were satisfied enough to give the deal the go-ahead.
Amazingly bad weather, which brought the country’s transport system to a standstill, meant the 2009 January transfer window deadline was extended by an hour. Although seemingly Arsenal were given a slightly longer extension after Andrei Arshavin’s move from Zenit St Petersburg was completed a whole 24 hours after the deadline. It seems as long as a deal has been agreed in principle then the Premier League will allow all the loose-ends to be tied up afterwards. However this allows players to arrive after the transfer window and understandably leaves other clubs infuriated.
The Premier League can stop this simply by refusing to ratify any transfers which are not completed, along with al the relevant paper work by the deadlines set. Clubs have a significant amount of time to complete their business and should pay the price for leaving it so late to complete their deals. While Tottenham and Arsenal both have valid and genuine reasons for missing the deadline, clubs will continue to flaunt the rules unless the Premier League gets tougher with the deadline day late arrivals.