Sheffield United: Behind the scenes on deadline day at Bramall Lane

Chris Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill still want to do some more business: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Chris Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill still want to do some more business: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

So how does a deal which might usually take weeks to complete get pieced together in a matter of hours or even minutes?

The answer, according to one member of the team tasked with ensuring deadline day runs smoothly at Bramall Lane, is practice, proximity and planning.

Paul Mitchell, Sheffield United's head of recruitment. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Paul Mitchell, Sheffield United's head of recruitment. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Together with Chris Wilder, his assistant Alan Knill and head of recruitment Paul Mitchell, Kevin Cookson features among a small band of staff set to spend the rest of today inside one of Sheffield United’s conference suites as the Championship club looks to complete the remainder of its transfer business. A veteran of 19 years experience, he provided The Star with a glimpse behind the scenes as United prepare for potentially their most frenetic 12 hours of the summer.

“Everybody will be in the same room, or the same part of the building at least, to make sure anything that needs to happen can get sorted out quickly,” Cookson, United’s senior communications officer, said. “Obviously Chris and Carl Shieber, our head of football administration, are at the forefront of things with Mitch. There are also lines of communication open and established with directors and other members of the hierarchy, who might be in other parts of the world, so they are kept in the loop. Basically, it’s making sure all the different departments required to get a move done are available to each other and talking.”

Wilder is hoping to sign at least one player before tonight’s 11pm deadline with attack thought to be United’s main area of concern. Cameron Carter-Vickers became the eighth new face to join United since the end of last season when he completed a loan move from Tottenham Hotspur six days ago.

“There’s a physiotherapist and also a doctor on stand-by for any medical that needs doing,” Cookson continued. “When a move is agreed after negotiations between everyone involved, the contracts will get drawn-up and then lodged by the secretary. While all of that is going on, I’ll be preparing to make the official announcement and making sure all of the relevant publicity material is in place. On top of that, throughout the day, I also take quite a few calls from journalists.”

Chris Wilder is experienced in the transfer market: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder is experienced in the transfer market: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Of course, even the best laid plans can be laid to waste as Hull City discovered in 2014. Having agreed terms with Hatem Ben Arfa during the final few hours of the window, everything appeared to be running smoothly until the winger got lost en route. The paperwork was eventually completed in a hotel, within kicking distance of York railway station, with only seconds to spare.

“The gaffer and pretty much everyone else on the football side of things have been through this lots of times before,” Cookson said. “So they are aware of the different situations and scenarios that might crop up.”