Six days of football that are far more exciting than transfer deadline day

Transfer deadline day is a fixture of the English football calendar these days, but it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Football has so much more to offer than its very own version of Supermarket Sweep, from festive football to the fantasy variety, there’s plenty to enjoy without feeling the need to reload your Twitter search every 10 seconds.

1. St Stephen's Day

(Anthony Devlin/Empics Sport)

Across 10 fixtures on St Stephen's Day 1963 the top flight managed 66 goals in 10 games, averaging 6.6 per match. Such goal-scoring heights are never scaled these days, but Stephen's Day football still provides its share of entertainment.

In the post-Christmas haze it is football’s job to remind fans there is an outside world while simultaneously providing a reason for staying in and sitting in front of the telly.

This season’s fixtures saw such results as Tottenham 5-2 Southampton, Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham and Liverpool 5-0 Swansea. It doesn’t quite match up to Fulham’s 10-1 win in 63, but it’s not bad.

2. FA Cup third round Saturday

(Steven Paston/PA)

A couple of weeks after Christmas and just as normality appears to be settling once more, the FA Cup third round makes a mess of everything, and it’s magnificent.

Premier League and Championship clubs join lower league sides and minnows alike in 32 games of unique and often mismatched football, with Saturday taking the bulk of the games.

With just £67,500 prize money available to the winners of each tie, it’s as close to a return to their roots as big clubs are likely to get. Manchester United playing at a 10,000-capacity ground? You got it. Arsenal’s reserve side struggling away on a bumpy pitch? Absolutely.

3. The first day of the transfer window

(Barrington Coombs/PA)

While the final day of the transfer window brings last-gasp transfer gossip and against-the-clock negotiations, the first day of the window has its qualities too.

At this stage transfer saga fatigue has yet to set in while the possibility of your club making a huge signing remains unsullied.

Some of the best transfers occur at the start of the window, completed with plenty of time to spare. In June 2016 Ilkay Gundogan moved to Manchester City, Sadio Mane moved to Liverpool and Eric Bailly moved to Manchester United all in June, months before deadline day.

4. Literally any midweek Premier League fixture

(David Davies/Empics Sport)

Fans of Premier League clubs get a smattering of these throughout the season, and they’re always welcome. The Premier League’s gift to the supporters.

With 10 games usually divided between a Tuesday and a Wednesday, the best occasions take place either under the lights or at least basking in a colourful sunset as fans unwind from the daily grind with the help of the beautiful game.

If you can spare the sleep, there might be a bonus Match Of The Day too, so you can basically pretend it’s a Saturday.

5. The day of the Champions League draw

(Neal Simpson/Empics Sport)

For any football anorak a group-stage draw has a certain allure – from the intricacies of the seeding system to the possibility of a group of death, the beauty is entirely in the detail.

Furthermore, this is a chance to see which of the greatest sides in the world the PL’s best will come up against, so discovering their fate in a controlled and methodical way is enthralling.

The icing on the cake remains the sight of former legends of the game picking teams out of a bowl. The fact they never seem to start on time is usually excused in exchange for the image of a former professional struggling to open a tiny football.

6. The first day of fantasy football

(Nick Potts/PA)

Last but by no means least, is there a more exciting day in the football calendar than that first opportunity to select your fantasy football team?

Of course there is, but being greeted with an entirely blank roster and an updated list of players including new (real world) signings is right up there. Fans have around a month to select their squad which means plenty of time for tinkering, while thoughts of this year being your year are hard to fight off.

Of course, once the season starts in August and you realise Dusan Tadic isn’t going to break the assists record this season, fantasy football becomes an altogether different prospect, at which point you’ll long for the blissful ignorance of July.

 

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