BY CHRIS CLARK
In recent times, Transfer Deadline Day has become a major day in the football calendar; it’s probably overtaken the 3rd round of the F.A. Cup in many fans’ eyes.
Key to Transfer Deadline Day’s popularity has been the level of coverage given to it by Sky Sports News. However, what is it like to work on Sky Sports News, how much goes on behind the scenes, how prepped are the presenters? I chatted with long serving presenter Pete Graves to find out more.
When does the planning for Transfer Deadline Day’s output begin?
We are always planning for it really. It’s something that has evolved as Sky Sports News has evolved. It is two days in the year that we are always looking ahead to and thinking how we can do it bigger and better. We are always looking at ways to make it an all-round better experience for the viewer.
The channel has also started to do more specialised days like “92Live”, is that a move to get away from just 24 hour news?
I think, to be fair, when it’s just 24 hour news it’s still brilliant. At the end of the day, people who watch the channel are sports fans and want to know about the latest goings on and we offer that. With anything though, you’ve got to be looking at making things bigger and better and keeping it fresh with the use of social media and the video wall in particular.
How do you find using the video wall?
It’s great. From a presenter’s point of view, it’s great to get up and move around and use the wall. Like anyone, you don’t want to be stuck behind a desk every day. The hub looks spectacular when you’re standing up next to it, for example on one screen behind you, you’ve got England celebrating the Ashes, on another screen you’ve got live football. It’s a really exciting thing to present.
With constant sports news, how exciting is it when something breaks when you are presenting?
Oh it’s great, that’s why we all do it. The big super signings are what people want to hear about and it’s exciting to present; the likes of Bale to Real Madrid, or Luis Suarez to Barcelona. The thing with deals now is that there is a build up to be it being announced, so the actual signing is dragged over a couple of days, if not weeks.
That’s true, it’s not like a few years ago, when the first you heard about it, is when player X had joined club Y.
Exactly. Our sources are telling us that a player is close to joining a club days before the deal has been completed.
Those sources…do you get sent information, and they say don’t release this? Are you privy to a lot of information that never goes out?
Yes, that’s right. Sky Sources will always be someone from within one of the clubs involved. We never report stories just off what an agent has told us. We will wait until a club confirms it to us, but often a club will have to confirm it as we know it.
How much are you being involved this August deadline day?
I’m doing the transfer zone, so I’ll be on from 6am to lunchtime. I’ll be comparing the new players joining clubs, which is a new feature we’ve introduced this year.
The Football Manager stats?
Yes, we also use the stats from Opta. It’s all about giving the best information possible to people watching.
I think the game Football Manager has led to fans being more stats driven than ever before.
The stats which are available now are amazing. It’s amazing how accurate they are. Even when I was a kid, whenever Newcastle were signing a player, I’d load up Football Manager and tell my scouts to check that player out!! It’s interesting, but it’s never going to be 100% accurate, but it will give you a grasp of what a player’s strengths and weaknesses are.
You’ve mentioned that you’re on for six hours on Deadline Day, how much preparation Is involved for you?
I’m prepping already, in fact you never stop. I’m always reading and watching as much as I can, what deals are in the pipeline, what are now non-runners. It’s a really, really busy day for everyone, the amount of work which goes in by everybody on-set and behind the scenes is remarkable. It’s a really big day, and when it’s over it’s disappointing but in equal measure, a relief.
A huge part of deadline day is the outside broadcasts outside the grounds.
Yes, however, unfortunately a few have ruined it for the many. At the end of the day we are a family show, and as much it would have been great to carry on with fans outside the grounds, we’re going to have to do things a little bit differently going forward, in a way viewers will equally enjoy.
You cannot mention Sky Transfer Deadline Day without saying something about Jim White. What is he like to work with?
Jim’s a great guy. He is amazingly helpful to everyone at Sky Sports News. He is definitely somebody who I look up to. He has great energy and fantastic contacts in the game and he uses those contacts on deadline day to great effect. He is absolutely tailor-made for Transfer Deadline Day, and Transfer Deadline Day is tailor-made for him.
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