David Parkin considers transferring his affections


How do you know it has been a quiet Transfer Deadline Day for Sky Sports News?

The pundits that the TV channel has brought in to discuss ins and outs at football clubs end up playing darts against each other.

The channel was also forced to run quizzes about deadline day signings from previous years.

Less than £100m was spent by Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, the lowest amount for three years and eight times less than was spent this time last year.

In fact the biggest news reported by Sky Sports News yesterday didn’t even involve football.

Lewis Hamilton’s move from Mercedes to Ferrari in Formula One topped the headlines, swiftly followed by Sky Sports’ breathlessly reporting that it was going to show the undisputed world heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksander Usyk later this month.

That news was sandwiched by clips of chubby man-child Luke Littler’s next darts tournament.

Sky has seized on the teenager’s recent success with all the breathless excitement you would expect.

Back in the football world, the Premier League’s tighter Profit and Sustainability Rules might have ensured some common sense has been injected into transfers of players by Premier League clubs, but that may only be in the short-term.

Well, until clubs and their accountants and lawyers find a few loopholes to exploit those rules.

Forget multi-million pound transfer fees.

My Transfer Deadline Day was spent wondering if my club, Derby County, would secure the services of an ageing striker on loan from Sheffield Wednesday.

Until they changed tack and were linked with an even older striker from Sheffield Wednesday.

We ended up with neither.

Oh, the joys of lower league football.

With little content to report in terms of real transfers, I’ve spent the last month studying how Sky Sports News delivers information to its viewers.

And I’ve concluded that I’m probably not in its target demographic.

Having despatched several older former players turned pundits and seen the departure of long-serving Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling, commentator Martin Tyler and reporter Geoff Shreeves, the channel is clearly looking to increase diversity among its presenters and pundits.

I get that and don’t have a problem with it.

But I can’t help feeling that the quality of the coverage has dropped.

Quite dramatically in some cases.

When discussing football transfers Sky Sports News now has a presenter standing in front of a big screen along with three young men in trainers and T-shirts.

They look like they’ve just been dragged off the terraces, given an iPad and told to talk about football.

They are neither former players nor experienced reporters so what qualifies them to speak with such certainty about sport?

I could find more intelligent and articulate views if I walked into my local pub or betting shop.

Even the remaining experienced Sky Sports News presenters are not insulated from change given the trainers, knitwear and hair transplants they have adopted.

I’m almost at the point where I yearn for the verbose Jim White and his yellow tie to return to shepherd things along on Transfer Deadline Day.


And now the football transfer deadline has passed, can we just settle down and watch football on Sky Sports?

Well, only if you can get past Green Football Weekend.

Yes, this weekend Sky and fellow Premier League broadcaster TNT Sports (formerly BT) are supporting Green Football Weekend, a “sustainability initiative” to encourage football supporters to eat more meat-free meals.

Fans can score points for their side by eating veggie meals, while many clubs will be promoting sustainable solutions around their matches this coming weekend.

Talk about patronising.

And hypocritical.

Football fans aren’t stupid and many have been quick to point out the hypocrisy of broadcasters promoting a sustainability initiative while playing a role in scheduling fixtures which increase the sport’s carbon emissions.

While eating less meat will lower carbon emissions, the initiative has a wider goal. The vast majority of carbon emissions associated with sport come from other sources.

Changing how fans travel to matches is the biggest factor in reducing football’s carbon footprint.

But when broadcasters are cherry picking games to move for TV coverage it seems little thought is given to how fans get there.

And fixture congestion is seeing more and more clubs use air travel to get to domestic matches to try and reduce the amount of time that players have to spend travelling.

And that isn’t just the ultra-rich Premier League sides, I see Leeds United are going by plane to upcoming matches at Plymouth and Swansea.

Sky Sports recently screened Liverpool’s match at Bournemouth at 4.30pm on a Sunday afternoon when the last train back to Liverpool was at 5.06pm.

So if you are going to a football match this weekend enjoy the sustainability initiatives and a veggie burger.

I don’t know why but I’m not thinking veggie burgers, I’m thinking milk.

Do you recall that TV advert from the 1980s for the Milk Marketing Board featuring two young Liverpool fans?

One tells the other that then star striker Ian Rush had told him that if he didn’t drink milk, he would only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley.

The other fan asks, “Accrington Stanley, who are they?”, to which the first replies, “Exactly.”

Forest Green Rovers have been recognised by the United Nations as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club and described by world football’s governing body FIFA as the “greenest team in the world”.

Forest Green Rovers, who are currently rock bottom of League Two propping up the 92 team Premier League and Football League pyramid.


I can’t help wondering if football and its broadcasters just stuck to football then the rest of us could just watch it and get on with doing the right things ourselves rather than being lectured to.

In the meantime lest I also be accused of hypocrisy, I’m going to cancel my ever-increasing subscription to Sky Sports.

But perhaps not until I find out whether Derby County’s upcoming big match against Shrewsbury is going to be selected for TV coverage.

Have a great weekend.

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