Hayley McQueen will be a familiar face to millions of football fans for her work on Sky Sports News, whose studios are based in Osterley, west London. The station’s coverage of the end of the winter transfer window, deadline day, has become as iconic and dramatic as the window itself. By Kait Borsay
“It’s a culmination of a whole month’s worth of work and reporting,” she said. “Sky Sports are very good at it, there’s a beginning, middle and an end. Whilst we don’t think we’ve created a monster, we’ve definitely created something special.”
This year business throughout the window was on a par with 2014, some £130m was spent. Chelsea made the most costly signing of deadline day, which this year fell on 2 February, paying £23.3m for Juan Cuadrado.
Whilst the Colombian winger’s arrival at the west London club was hardly surprising, Tottenham sprung a shock by capturing Dele Alli from MK Dons for £5m. The 18-year-old midfielder, a hot prospect for the future, will be loaned back to MK Dons until the end of the season.
Deadline day also saw Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon move to Everton on loan and West Ham fail to sign anyone at all – despite chasing no less than eight players throughout the day.
The January window is criticised by many for promoting over-inflated prices through panic buying. Manchester United manager Luis van Gaal told MUTV he doesn’t like that a club is able to start the season and then change their team. The richer clubs might be able to do that but often the smaller clubs can’t. McQueen, though, is a supporter:
“You have to remember it’s not just about a day, but across the whole month. If you’re clever enough you do your business right at the beginning so you’re not left in a scramble.
“January is always very hard, but it’s brilliant for the lower league teams to capitalise on a couple of loan deals.”
More significantly, spending this season nearly reached the £1bn mark. During the summer and winter windows a record £950m was spent. Deadline day was up £10m on last year, with £45m banked before the window “slammed shut”.
The day follows a set format on the channel. Graphics, ties, and clothing are all yellow. Reporters are stationed all over the country, this year they were in ‘safe’ areas; with little or no activity behind them. This meant a bit of the atmosphere was lost, but you can’t blame the channel, after safety concerns in the summer when reporters were treated to intimidating behaviour from football fans.
McQueen closed the coverage with the man who spearheads the drama on one of the channel’s most-watched days, Jim “breaking news” White.
“When you see Jim White on his phone he actually is on his phone”, she said.
“He is like a kid” she laughs, “he loves sweet drinks and chocolate often gets caught putting tic tac’s in his tea.
“Jim’s very enthusiastic, I’m an anchor in a different sense. He’s like a big cruise liner, full steam ahead and I just reign it back in so he doesn’t get completely out of control!”
White is almost as famous as Sky Sports’ popular coverage of deadline day itself. McQueen has her own methods of keeping across the constant transfer lines coming in:
“By being in and around the office every day through the month you build this knowledge up. I have a little notepad I look back through and find notes I’ve made during the month that I can refer back to. It really comes in handy when it’s a player you don’t know much about, like Krystian Bielik joining Arsenal.”
“Deadline day is special, there is always something happening every 30 seconds and that’s what makes it thrilling and brilliant.”
You can catch Hayley every week on Sky Sports News.