Twenty-four hour football people, Leeds United and transfer speculation - Daniel Chapman

Che Adams, Leeds United's number one transfer target in January (Pic: Getty)Che Adams, Leeds United's number one transfer target in January (Pic: Getty)
Che Adams, Leeds United's number one transfer target in January (Pic: Getty)
Twenty-four-hour football is a gift and a curse. It’s like a dream to switch on a screen and see a game from ... somewhere, at any hour of any day, even if it is only there to hook you into betting on the Guatemalan Liga.

Or into buying a new kettle, if you only realised you’d forgotten to cancel that Amazon Prime trial, because you couldn’t face the end of their Leeds United documentary, when they offered up wall-to-wall Premier League on Boxing Day.

The curse is that not enough of this football is interesting, although Mixco versus Santa Lucía next weekend has a certain appeal, mainly because it sounds like a white label 12” brought back from Ibiza.

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But even a list of VAR talking points, the football equivalent of forgetting to put your clocks back and losing an hour in bed, doesn’t get my heart racing for Bournemouth against Watford.

The hunger is there, though, so fans are driven to get their kicks in other ways.

When the games aren’t doing it for you anymore, what about the transfer speculation?

The hurt reaction after Leeds lost to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday only had a certain amount to do with the game itself.

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The boos upon the final whistle were for the result, but also for the players not signed, the Financial Fair Play rules not broken, the feverish trawls of Qatari social media accounts that haven’t turned takeover speculation into Mbappe; for the programme notes, for the documentary, for Daniel James.

When Kiko Casilla was beaten at his near post, talk was less about his technical deficiencies, more about the transfer policies that brought him here, and what sort of cheque would bring in someone else.

A photograph of a goalkeeper making an acrobatic save, that encapsulates so many of the thrills of the sport, feels less valuable than a picture of a new one signing a loan contract. In times of crisis, players are often asked if they are affected by events off the field.

They usually say ‘no’, and we usually believe them, not always realising that we usually force them into saying that, by refusing to believe that footballers paid £20,000 a week should worry about anything.

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But fans are tied to Leeds United by love, a tighter bond than money, and we can’t get through 90 minutes at Elland Road without cursing the 4G for cutting us off from news of what Che Adams is doing on or off Southampton’s bench.

If we can’t concentrate on the game in front of us, why should the players?

Perhaps they, watching Pat Bamford put a chance over the bar, also thought about the Adams highlights they’d watched on YouTube that morning.

I’d support scrapping the January transfer window altogether to solve this. Transfers in the summer, then that’s you for the season: now go out and play, without wondering who we could sign instead.

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But, having built a 24-hour game, too many news channels rely on the January transfer window to disguise the tedium of the actual matches. Without transfers, what would they talk about? Football?

The other option is to truly make the game a 24-hour spectacle, in a way that will distract fans’ attention from valuations, contracts and cheques. One match a week doesn’t seem enough to keep our minds on the game, so how about one a day?

I can see Bielsa’s eyes flashing their glee. But that still leaves a lot of pre- and post-match dead air, so how about three a day, morning, afternoon and night? Now that’s a schedule.

Nobody wants a breaking news alert barking about an incredible free transfer sensationally not happening while the players are constantly on the pitch.

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I say constantly – football is a global game, so to ensure our foreign fans don’t use the time difference to fill social media with speculation, there should be a couple of overnight matches too.

Imagine waking up not to transfer news, but video highlights, before 10am brings the day’s first kick-off.

It might sound ridiculous, but we’ve already created a world of constant Jim White; replacing it with a world of constant football feels like a step towards sense.

The only problem with five games a day is the size of squad it would require.

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Which means Angus Kinnear had better get the chequebook out and, if Bielsa doesn’t want more players, Victor Orta needs to tell Andrea Radrizzani to ... oh god, it’s inescapable.

Daniel Chapman has co-edited Leeds United fanzine and podcast The Square Ball since 2011, taking it through this season’s 30th anniversary, and seven nominations for the Football Supporters’ Federation Fanzine of the Year award, winning twice. He’s the author of a new history book about the club, ‘100 Years of Leeds United, 1919-2019’, and is on Twitter as MoscowhiteTSB.