WORDS BY SIMON E. SMITH
Transfer Deadline Day will soon be upon us. In a bid to get the inside track, we caught up with former Blue Peter star Simon Thomas to give us the low down on what goes behind the scenes…
So let’s start with the basics, what’s your favourite thing about deadline day?
I worked on a few TDD’s and the best thing was the atmosphere in the office and studio. That sense you didn’t quite know what was going to happen. You’d try your best to be as prepared as possible and try and work out the likely movers on the day, but then you’d go on air and genuinely anything could happen.
Robinho thinking he’s off to Chelsea but ends up at Man City springs to mind!
As we know, the transfer window has been open for months, so why do clubs always leave it so bloody late to do business?
Because if they don’t Jim White won’t have anything to self-combust about!
For most of the ‘bigger’ clubs they tend to get their main business done early. Manchester United being a good example this season. I think for the ‘smaller’ clubs they are finding the ever more inflated prices a big problem.
In an ideal world, all clubs would get their business done early, get players in for a pre-season and be well set for the new season.
The reality is for a lot of these clubs is that while they try to get deals done by holding off until the eleventh hour believing they may be able to get a better price for a player, another club is desperate to offload; the risk in this, as we often see on Deadline Day, is you can easily lose out to another club in the final minutes.
On the topic of time being of the essence – what’s the biggest deal you know of that’s not gone through because of time restrictions?
For me, it has to be David de Gea’s move to Real Madrid.
Everyone expected he would make the move to the Bernabeu but it all fell apart. Manchester United said they’d sent the fax in time but Real Madrid told a very different story. Great drama and what a keep for United!
Why do they still use fax machines? It’s 2016 not 1996!
So you’re a man in the know Simon, where do you get your tips from in the window?
Now you know I can’t reveal my sources!
To be fair nearly all the credit should go to the guys who work on the news desk and the army of reporters who work on Transfer Deadline Day at Sky Sports News HQ. They are the ones badgering the clubs and their contacts for news. The biggest challenge now for us, and any media outlet is sifting through the vast amount of conjecture on social media.
While a sighting of Messi at Manchester airport makes for a decent bit of Twitter banter, separating the truth from the spoof is a big challenge. In terms of my tips – I just use my phone and text and call those I know in the game.
Which club do you think has done the best bit of business in the current window and why?
I’m going to go for one of the promoted sides – Middlesborough. Never easy for a promoted side to stay in the top flight but I like the business they’ve done in giving themselves a really good chance.
Álvaro Negredo has hit the ground running. Gaston Ramirez made a real difference when he arrived on loan last season and now they’ve got him in permanently.
Barcelona have one of the most decorated players in their history with Victor Valdes.
They’ve had a busy but smart transfer window.
Deadline day is crazy for us fans, what’s it like actually being in the thick of it?
The same. Just a lot of fun. Let’s be honest – there’s been a fair few TDD’s that haven’t delivered an awful lot of drama and you’re left with Peter Odemwingie driving himself to QPR as the best story of the day.
However, it’s become an institution and viewers, fans, players and even some managers love it and you can’t beat being a part of it.
Fast-forward 10 years to August 31st 2026. What will be the highest transfer fees played for a player?
Well if Yannick Bolasie is ‘worth’ £20 million anything is possible! If Pogba is going for near on £90 million then the mind boggles at what ten years time might look like.
I don’t think long-term these figures are sustainable but it won’t be long before we see the first £100 million player.
My hope is that it doesn’t keep going like this. Unrealistic maybe but the more astronomic these fees become the bigger the gap in football between the haves and have not becomes and so too the disconnect with fans.
Final and most important question Simon…the Sky Sports girls; snog, marry and avoid. Go.
Chaps, I’m a married man – but I loved working with Georgie Thompson!