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Bowler's Delivery: Looking out of the transfer window

3 February 2015

Transfer deadline day: As we know it

SO this is how transfer deadline day unfolds.

As the day begins, there genuinely are a string of potential deals in place, but very few of them are standalone deals. Most are a chain reaction, a game of snakes and ladders, such that if A happens, B can happen, then C, then D. But if E doesn’t happen, then you go down the snake and A might not have happened after all and instead of progressing to B, you have to think of G instead.

All the while during the day, the deals are in various states of readiness, some seeming close, some remote possibilities, the two criss-crossing through the hours, going in and out of focus.

If you work inside a media department, all that you can do is wait, prepare some stories, some player biographies and then wait a bit more. The niceties of football transfers mean that you cannot say a word. You cannot tweet, you cannot put out a story, you cannot post anything on facebook because you do not know what is going to happen.

On this deadline day, there was a moment when Albion seemed as if we were going to sign at least three players and see as many go out the door in the other direction. But we have to sit on that because as the official voice of the club, we can’t speculate, we can only deliver things once they become fact.

Because if we hadn’t done that, then at nine o’clock we’d have been tweeting and reporting about deals that ultimately did not go through. And then the roof would have fallen in here, at their parent clubs, amongst supporters and in the media. 

Even deals that do go through, as the official word – the clue is in the twitter handle of @wbafcofficial – on matters Albion, we cannot comment until they are cast in stone. So while Sky, BT, the BBC and everyone elsewhere reported that Darren Fletcher had signed for us, he hadn’t. He wasn’t even in the building. But the media can make stuff up and get it wrong. 

All we can do is sit and wait and look as if we’re on a day off. And then we announce what happened and wait as everybody else speculates – generally wildly inaccurately – as to what went wrong. And because football has a code of silence that makes the Mafia look like Graham Norton on helium, we have to sit in silence and look like cretins.

Do we make mistakes? Yes. Are we perfect? No. Are all the snakes our fault? No, they’re not. Are we to blame for everything? No. Should there be somebody to blame for everything? No, because sometimes, life just works that way. 

In the finish, a lot of this is due to the manufactured drama that Rupert Murdoch loves so dearly, most of it put together for the benefit of Jim White’s testimonial committee and we are all jerked along on their chain, all of us made to look fools by yellow day. 

In the end, Albion have made two excellent signings in the transfer window, one footballer full of potential in Callum McManaman, another full of guile and experience in Darren Fletcher. We are stronger than we were on January 1, if not as strong as we wanted to be – the situation that 89 other football clubs are in too. But transfer deadline day disguises that and to be honest, it stinks.

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