Non-soccer fans not wanting to read something all about le foot may wish to look away now.
Today was the official closure of the first Transfer Window of the year in the UK, which was again being treated by the BBC and Sky Sports News (generally the two most reliable sources of soccertainment upon our sceptred isle) as the Single Most Gripping Thing to Happen in Association Football.
Perhaps the nadir of rolling news non-event sports journalism filler, the reportage throughout today was particularly poor. First of all, setting up a relatively recent innovation as something footie fans have been eagerly anticipating since the days of Sir Stanley Matthews is disingenuous and more than a little reminiscent (in its sickly enforced carnival excitement) of the Seasonal Red Cups at Starbucks “tradition” campaign.
Second, the posts on both the Beeb‘as it happens’ and Sky’s Clockwatch took on a tone of holiday camp enthusiasm, the typing on the tickers speaking of reporters all wearing a rictus of desperation as non-event after non-event spattered their empty chat room walls with rotten eggs, tomatoes, shite.
Witness the BBC this morning:
1154: Is it just me, or is one done deal graphic for five hours work a touch on the disappointing side? Worry ye not, though – it just means there are more to come. Plenty more. Is everyone you know getting involved yet?
Glossing over the graphics – technology now allowing us to assign a whimsical little icon for every possible permutation of non-event, such as the flying pig for ‘wild rumours’ – and the concluding plaintive and misguided attempt at whipping up some, any, interest, however, it must be noted that plenty was not forthcoming. It was not, if you will allow some abysmal football-related wordplay, even top ten finishing or relegation battling. Fast forward to:
1701: Of course, there’s bound to be stuff going on we still don’t know about. There’s just bound to be. Or I can just get my coat and leave…
…and you can almost hear the hiss of the toaster in the bath, Brian. At least the BBC were trying to lighten the tone by admitting it was watching-Johnstone’s-Paint-dryingly dull. Over on Sky, the channel that arguably invented modern football and take it VERY SERIOUSLY, in the way that people with buckets of cash depending on the issue will tend to, the tone was much more studied:
15.19 Sky Sports News understands that Valencia midfielder Ever Banega will not be making a deadline day loan switch to Everton.
That “understands” was priceless. It must have been so dismal in the Sky News Room having to cover what essentially amounts to a bunch of faxes being sent between lawyers that any attempt at intrigue was to be encouraged. How do you make nothing happening interesting? Over to Jeff Stelling:
“Exciting news from Merseyside there; our sources suggest that there is confirmation nothing is also happening at Ewood Park – Charlie.”
“That’s right, Jeff, nothing IS happening here in Blackburn. Nothing was rumoured to be taking place earlier on, and we can now verify that to be the case.”
“Great stuff, Charlie! Now, over to Jim at the Stadium of Light, where there’s nothing happening… can you illuminate us, Jim?”
Etc etc etc.
Eventually, it became obvious that the only way to liven up the Traditional Excitement would be to have the hapless hacks at the BBC and Sky covering each other’s updates:
16.55 Sky Sports News believes that the BBC suggests Svensson is NOT going to Bradford on loan, we understand we can reveal.
One could have gone on for, oh, 8.5 hours or something. Easy! Easy!