First, it was the removal of fans behind the reporters as they broke the latest transfer news. Then it was the addition of Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and Chris Kamara in the Sky Sports studio. But the confirmation that transfer deadline day as we knew it was dead was when usual co-anchor Natalie Sawyer emerged for her shift on Sky Sports News…at 1pm.
Sawyer has for years brought the final day of the transfer window to an end as she joined co-presenter Jim White from 7pm to announce whether the latest deals got the green light before the 11pm deadline, often working late into the night as more and more transfers are announced.
Video: Deadline day news and rumours
Yet Twitter users went into a meltdown when Sawyer appeared for the lunchtime shift, meaning that unless she puts in the mother of all efforts into the broadcaster’s deadline day coverage, she’s been ousted as one of the lead presenters.
Sawyer's early appearance also triggered a number of tweets that revealed the surprise at seeing her so early in the day. It's fair to say that on a quiet day for transfers, this was the biggest shock by far.
Biggest #TransferDeadlineDay news is Natalie Sawyer on mid afternoon on SSN meaning the end of the TDD White/Sawyer partnership?; Georgie Bingham (@georgiebingham) February 2, 2015
But surely the big transfer of the day is Natalie Sawyer's shock move to 1pm slot, being bumped from the prime-time close of play act!; Graeme Bailey (@GraemeBailey) February 2, 2015
Lol at people going into a rage because Natalie Sawyer's on now and not tonight.; Rich Laverty (@RichJLaverty) February 2, 2015
Sawyer’s absence from the prime time programme suggests that she has been replaced, and all avenues point to Sky Sports moving presenter Kate Abdo up the ranks following her deadline day debut last summer.
Abdo, considered one of Sky’s up-and-coming presenters, has featured more and more on their Sky Sports News coverage, while she has also made a name for herself in her work as the lead presenter for the Ballon d’Or award, having presented Cristiano Ronaldo with his title as the world’s best player last month.
The question now is what will become of Jim White? The veteran presenter’s cliché-ridden and predictable coverage has seen the talented broadcaster almost become a parody of himself when it comes to closing the transfer window. Of course, it’s not helped by Sky Sports’ dramatic and over-the-top build up to the day, not to mention the images of “Jim White in the house” when he’s arrived for his shift, complete with yellow tie.
White appeared in a transfer deadline day special on Friday as he, Abdo and Guillem Balague took part in a Facebook Q+A ahead of the final day of the January window, in which he appeared to confirm that Abdo will be presenting their coverage with him as Big Ben strikes 11pm.