Barry: ‘That’s it. Midnight. House sales over’

I LOVE a good deadline. As a journalist, there’s nothing better than bashing out a story with minutes to spare.

I LOVE a good deadline. As a journalist, there’s nothing better than bashing out a story with minutes to spare. It’s so much more satisfying than writing a tale at a nice leisurely pace – providing you get the facts right of course.

So, as I sit here typing this out on Monday evening, I’m keeping one eye on the BBC Sport website as it updates all the transfers – and rumoured transfers – on English football’s deadline day.

In the olden days (about five years ago) there was only one deadline day each season, which I seem to remember was in March.

To be honest, it wasn’t much craic. The only deals that tended to be done were by sides desperately trying to avoid relegation by taking a chance on some out-of-favour player.

But now the powers that be have blessed us with two deadline days each season.

The first transfer window slammed shut on Monday night, meaning managers are stuck with the players they have until New Year’s Day when the market opens again for another month.

Then the dreaded window closes once more, and it’s through to the end of the season with no chance to strengthen your squad. A few injuries to first-team players and it’s time to find out if that 17-year-old kid is up to it.

And what fun these deadline days are.

As I type this, some decent deals have already been done. Man United striker Louis "made of glass" Saha is off to Everton while Spurs have signed the Russian Roman Pavlyuchenko – a wonderfully talented striker who obviously has no interest in playing in the Champions League.

And most interestingly of all, Abu Dhabi have signed Manchester City. What a deal that is, with the oil-rich consortium promising to turn the Blues into a world force. It’s so obvious this will all end in tears.

But the takeover of City really helped the deadline day speculation. Flush with cash, they were linked with Dimitar Berbatov, David Villa and Pele circa 1970 – before, amazingly, actually signing Robinho for a British transfer record of £33m.

But all this speculation is a sport in itself. And it’s one I’ve been watching all day.

However, you can have too much of a good thing. So it’s healthy that, now the window is closed, the transfer speculation can die down.

Now we can concentrate on the football, rather than endless stories of unlikely deals which seem designed just to shift papers.

Monday’s excitement got me to thinking – couldn’t the transfer window be extended to other parts of the economy?

The obvious place to start would be the housing market.

Talking about property prices has pretty much become a religion in England and, like the old religion, it’s not one I believe in.

I find talking about the cost of a load of bricks about as interesting as discussing my favourite umbrella.

But many people go on about the housing market all the time. And, unlike football transfers, it’s a year-round sport. It just never stops.

So let’s have a transfer window system for house-buying.

If you wanted to move home, you would have to do it either in the summer or January. At all other times it would be banned and you would have to stay where you were.

For the four months of the year that the market was open, there would be feverish buying and selling of houses.

There would be loads of haggling. Estate agents and surveyors would be working round the clock – and buyers would be able to pick up a bargain if they had the bottle to leave it to January 31.

It would be great sport – though probably more for spectators than participants.

You could even have bets about which of your neighbours was going to put the for sale sign up on January 1.

But for the other eight months of the year, with house-selling banned, people would have to find something else to talk about at dinner parties or in the pub.

Think how liberating this would be. No longer able to bang on constantly about property prices, people would have to find alternative topics of conversation.

Like the weather, for instance. Hasn’t it been terrible recently?

Oh, sorry, that’s next week’s column.

 

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