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THE SECRET AGENT: Deadline day special - part one
5:30am Friday 31st January 2014 in Sport
AT around 10.30pm tonight Jim White will be gasping for breath, Harry Redknapp will be spilling out of his Range Rover’s window and Sky Sports’ breaking news graphic will be spinning wildly out of control.
Deadline day has become a major sporting event in its own right, down mainly to the loud voices and dubious sources at Sky, and football-mad households across the country will tune in for hours on end to watch reporters hypothesising or paraphrasing events that may still happen, have happened or, in fact, were never going to happen at all.
But is deadline day really all it’s cracked up to be? Or are we, in the media, simply glorifying an occasion which, in reality, isn’t actually an occasion at all?
To answer our question, the Advertiser turned to someone in the know. Our secret agent has been representing footballers across the Football League, the Premier League and abroad for a decade and currently works for a leading national sports management agency.
Though he will remain nameless, the agent offers a unique insight into what really happens on deadline day.
“The media make more of it because they’re trying to sensationalise deadline day,” he said. “The majority of English agents work in the Football League so we’re not totally tied down to the transfer window because deals can done outside the window as a loan.
“You only have to look at Sky Sports, they really try to fill. I think they drag it out a bit myself.
“I find it reasonably entertaining but it’s a bit like waiting for the royal baby.
“We don’t always know the deals but most of the deals aren’t going to come out of left field, that no one would have heard about.
“Today I’ve had a couple of calls about players, I’ve got an offer going in on one of my players at a League One side going to another League One side and I’m waiting to speak to the player at the moment to see if he’s interested.
“If you think about how many will go last minute and compare how many agents there are in the country, we’re not all sitting there outside Tottenham’s training ground and Stoke’s training ground.
“There were seven transfers yesterday (Wednesday), of which four were loans, and there are 450 agents.”
Still, January can be a lucrative month for agents, as the agent explains: “Our financial year runs from the beginning of July until the end of June so it’s the last time we can earn money. Most of your work is done in the summer so however you negotiate your fees you negotiate them from the summer through the year.
“January is another opportunity to earn some money and see if you’ve got a job next year.”
The secret agent hangs up briefly as he takes a call off the player is hoping to move before tonight’s deadline.
When he calls back 10 minutes later, discussion turns to how busy he has been on a personal level this month.
The agent works in the Polish, Scandinavian and American markets as well as in the UK, which means when January becomes February his grind doesn’t just stop. Still, 2014 has been fairly quiet.
“This window in some form or another I’ve done three. It’s a slow one. Personally, I did a lot of my work in the summer and the problem is all agents are different,” he said.
So, does our secret agent meet up with the rest of his agent colleagues in a secret lair on deadline day, poised for one final deal? Well, yes, as it turns out. Only the secret lair is a pub.
“What we tend to do as an agency on transfer window night, we will invariably be ready to go somewhere,” he said. “We’ll try to meet up back in London and have a drink so we’re in and around the office, just in case.
“We’ve been up the road in the pub and squeezed in a deal because as long as you’re near the office and a fax machine it will all pretty much get done.”
Ah, the famous fax machine. A myth, surely?
“Of course it is. You just scan and email but people like the idea of a fax,” said the agent. “None of us know how to use our fax machine, it’s all scan and email now.”
So, what would our agent rather be doing on deadline day evening? Fixing up a deal in the car park of the Britannia Stadium or enjoying a pint in the comfort of his local boozer?
“The public seem to think we want to do the last-minute deal and be that guy at the Tottenham training ground,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in one and got texts from people saying I don’t have legs on widescreen TV when I was filmed coming out of Sunderland’s training ground.”
The boozer it is, then.
Grab tomorrow’s Swindon Advertiser for part two of Sam Morshead’s special report on transfer deadline day.
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