Transfer deadline day has become a semi-annual staple of the football calendar. It’s a day when the high-octane drama of a football game can be recreated without the action, and the same emotional highs and lows hit.
But it can also be filled with upheaval and worry, changing real lives very quickly. So what does the day itself actually look like? BBC Sport asked three people with three very different perspectives to find out.
“It was a really, really tough day” – the manager
Former Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew
Alan Pardew admits that January 31, 2011 “marked” him. Less than two months into his reign as Newcastle United manager, he was faced with something he had hoped to avoid.
Liverpool and Tottenham had been bidding for 21-year-old England striker Andy Carroll throughout the day but, after Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea, the Reds needed a partner for another arrival, Luis Suarez, and came up with a huge offer of £35million.
Newcastle, which didn’t seem in genuine danger of relegation, couldn’t refuse. But he had no time to react.
“We were adamant in the morning that Liverpool would not reach a value that we would accept,” recalled Pardew. “Then I got a phone call to say a solid offer had come in, above Andy’s market value.
“The decision of the board was that he was going to leave and it was a blow for me because we didn’t have time to replace him. We were just good enough with him in the team. It was a really, really tough day.”
Speculation over Carroll’s future has intensified over the past week and Pardew admits there was a sense of unease within the club.
“The players and staff were all aware of the situation. It adds a different tension,” adds Pardew. “We didn’t have anything with Andy because it was so late in the day. We knew the player was adamant he wanted to go and the fee exceeded his value.
“We were hoping we could spend the summer and use the money to grow the club. But the fans weren’t going to see that for five months. Every question I got after that was ‘Are you going to get the money from? Andy Carroll??’ until the end of the year, but we came to the conclusion that there was not much we could do.
“The transfer deadline can bring many opportunities and people make decisions that trigger others. That’s why there are a lot of people.”
“It was a disaster” – the player
Former West Ham defender Matthew Upson
Matthew Upson made a deadline-day move from Birmingham City to West Ham in January 2007, and it all happened so fast he didn’t even have his boots with him.
“It was a lot, to be fair,” Upson admits. “I had played for Birmingham midweek and settled everything on Thursday, leaving only Friday for training and then we were off to Aston Villa, so you’re on the bus to the hotel.”
The Hammers’ new owners have spent a lot of money this winter trying to help the team rise in the standings as relegation looms for Alan Curbishley’s side. Upson was their sixth signing of the window after an extended departure from St Andrew’s.
“Any move like that, they’re late,” he adds. “You get a phone call and jump in your car. It’s all a bit up in the air. I got injured in the first game, I think the preparation I had for the game was not good, it’s It was a disaster, I felt bad.
“You have just signed for a club which is in a bit of a sticky situation, they have paid a lot of money and you are lying on a treatment table.
Ultimately, Carlos Tevez’s last-day heroism at Manchester United saved West Ham, but the whirlwind nature of his arrival arguably cost Upson. The central defender says: “I was stuck in the apartment, renting after moving in, foot in the air, just anxious [watching that game]. It was one of the worst months I’ve had.”
“Agreements can fall apart because of the family element” – agent
John Print, owner of Sprint MG agency
John Print, which has clients all over the world, often tries to avoid the uncertainty of due day, but the very nature of the market means that this cannot always be the case.
“It’s a game of moving parts and you don’t know what can happen,” says Print. “From a player’s perspective, you don’t want to rely on a deadline. But clubs could identify your player on a list of five on January 1 and at the end of the window they could be number one. “
Because he seeks to help players build their careers, Print is wary of the human side of transfers, having seen deals hinge on emotional issues.
“Some agents try to design moves for their players, I wouldn’t do that,” he adds. “It’s not about impulsive decisions to get another payday.
“It depends on the individual. We would go over the pros and cons. Does this player have a family? Would he be willing to be without them for a few months? Players need to realize that the Contracts can mean security so they can you need a positive attitude to make it work, but if the club really wants you, it’s possible to get a better deal on deadline day.
“Sometimes business can fall apart because of the family element. The first reaction to a move may be euphoria, but reflection brings a completely different response.”
While it sounds glamorous, transfer deadline day can be tough in many ways.