For football fans, most of our lives revolve around monotonously plowing through the week’s work to make it to the weekend. You meet up with the lads, have a pint or twelve and head down your local ground to watch 22 overpaid men kick a footy around. For 90 minutes you can forget everything around you as you sing, dance and chant the name of that lad you called a shit signing six months ago but just scored ‘an absolute worldie’. Football fans love the drama and excitement, the thrill of winning and even the bitter taste of losing is glorious to all football fans. Well, that is what the media would have you believe. When there is no stories of a young maverick striker ripping up the script, or a shocking refereeing decision to analyse 101 times over, the media are sat twiddling their thumbs, trying to think of ways to generate clicks and tweets to keep themselves in jobs.
The lack of drama in the offseason means the only stories that generate clicks are how many pints Jack Grealish had in Tenerife or how Arsenal are going to win the league this year because new signings. Fans take to twitter to announce how much of a bottler a player is, and how they need to offload them for the trendy South American striker ‘everyone’ is raving about. Fans want success and they always want improvement, so the promise of new signings pricks the ears of the modern football fan. These are fans who hope the next big signing can lead their club to title joy. A European winger with an exotic name leaning on the Melwood walls or Ed Woodward spotted at a café in Turin will generate thousands of clicks to the source with the first image or story. Couple the fans eagerness for new signings with a lack of important matches being played beyond the odd international, and the media is left to churn out stories of how an elite athlete smoking 1 cigarette is going to destroy their career or how United are going to sign every single ‘world class’ player available on the market.
This creates a media war to obtain the exclusive, to be the paper who first broke Sanchez to Arsenal will generate thousands more clicks than if you are the 4th tabloid to print the story that day. This battle means newspapers begin to speculate, they find the most obscure source and sometimes provide no source of information at all, gambling on weather they just might get lucky. This is how fans are usually misled and taken on a rollercoaster ride that usually ends in disappointment. As a football fan it is important to understand just how bullshit a rumour is and if the rumour has any grounds of truth at all, or is just The S*n trying to generate a bit of ad revenue.
A fake story will usually find its roots in a newspaper such as the Metro, who source their information from a dodgy Italian or French newspaper equivalent to the Metro, who themselves sourced their information from the Metro. If the player is of higher enough caliber, fans start to share the news to their mates on social media. The rumour then begins to gather enough traction and will end up in rumour mill sections of other newspapers.
This is where people are misled. We are told to only ever listen to the BBC or The Liverpool Echo, so when the BBC shares a link saying ‘Liverpool looking at Messi’, people go into meltdown. If you were to actually follow the link you will find that it is usually apart of their rumour mill, where the respectable source has collected all the weeks rumours from almost all the tabloids in a roundup section. If the rumour is not in the rumour roundup section, then it is important to see who the journalist reporting the story is. Understanding weather a rumour is completely false or has grounds of truth takes some digging. For your club, it is important to understand which Journalists are deeply rooted in the community and are likely to actually have contacts inside a football club. Notable Liverpool journalists include Tony Barret and James Pearce, who regularly tweet to debunk or confirm certain transfer rumours. Beyond the scope of Liverpool, Journalists such as Fabrizio Romano and BBC and Sky Journalists such as Vinny O’Connor and Pete O’Rourke are also fairly reliable bets for accurate information. It is important to note that Journalists might have accurate information but clubs also change their minds on things and not everything these Journalists say will end up actually happening, but it is up to you as a fan to be proactive to look to see if a story is false or if it has any grounds for truth at all.
As a football fan it’s called ‘Silly Season’ for reason, and we should embrace it and enjoy it for what it is, instead of being worked up over rumour’s of world class players which may or may not be true. Sports media and media in general is one big world of ‘clickbait’ and it is your role as a consumer of this information to be proactive and to question what you read, and only share rumour’s which seem to have shades of truth.