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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Art of Good Rumour Mongering


The announcement by Forest we had agreed a deal for a player who would sign in the next 14 days has set minds flying with who it could be. What it starts is a wave of people “in the know”, who claim that they have sources or suchlike and know all the precise dealings of the club. And now with the transfer window cranking into life it’s started all of this cycle off in earnest. There are many rumours that have been out there in the last few days and in previous transfer windows so are frankly so ridiculous as to be pointless.

Let me give you an example. 7-8 years ago in a previous incarnation of this site, me and a co writer decided we needed an attention grabbing article. This is before the days where I regarded quality as way above quantity. We scoured the few forum and rumour sites that existed back then, and went with a plausible rumour. Marcus Bent, we needed a striker, he was out of favour, and it looked possible. So we suggested it was. It went crazy. We got more than hits than ever for anything, the rumour started doing the rounds of more reputable sites and the club even issued a disclaimer stating that it was false. This is before Twitter, before Facebook, we relied on NewsNow, but it clearly got onto forums. The thing is there was never any truth to it. So that’s how easy it is to something out there as “news.” Now we have social media to fan these flames.

At Christmas time or so we were oddly linked with Joe Cole on a loan deal before he re joined West Ham. People genuinely believed this could happen, and it starts because a wave of people of people on Twitter or Facebook blindly believe whatever they are told from any old source without questioning it.

Then there are the people who try to qualify their rumours by claiming to have a friend or relative who works at the club and “knows.” I am unsure why they think shop staff or ticket shop staff knows the entire transfer dealings of the club. For a start a lot of business these days is done out of Wilford Lane rather than the club itself.

I do enjoy the folk who say I’ve just been in West Bridgford Tesco and saw X player in there; he must be signing for the club. This one’s always bizarre. Or their estate agent friend has a new client who turns out to be so and so player. The type of rumour that can’t be qualified by anyone at all.

These are lazy attempts. They usually try and qualify it by putting “#fact” after it or suchlike like them putting that at the end almost makes it unquestionable. It’s an adult equivalent of writing I.D.S.T. (if you don’t know what it means I pity your childhood) on a pencil case at school about some spurious rumour or teenage love affair.

And why people decide that they have to know now bothers me. This never happened in the pre- Social media era, we’d have to sit and wait, and be glad when Ceefax or Teletext told you in the news we’d signed someone. Or phoning up the Teamtalk or Clubcall Premium rate numbers for inane gossip.

Because it’s easier to put a rumour out there and to a vast source of people it gets people starved of attention to start getting that attention. People just chuck any old name out there and someone will believe it. This gets worse from July, as the season approaches people are excited, but then also the kids are off school, and have nothing better it seems than to spend all day on twitter blathering on about how we should have been in for player Y who went to a Premiership club, or that they really rate player Z as he is good on FIFA, not seeing the blurs between reality and fiction, and not also guessing that this player really actually doesn’t fit with the managers plans, never mind would want to come to the club in the first place.

A breed of rumour monger just seems to be getting lazier, and just links us with any player being released in the Premier League, or hell even a player transfer listed, never mind if its top bracket club, so therefore would move down the Premiership if not abroad, and would also want a very level of wage. It is just sloppiness in the extreme. (This week I saw Denilson of Arsenal mentioned)

The current name doing the rounds is Raheem Sterling. This kid was starting games for one of the top Premiership clubs last season. He would be ripe for a long loan to a lower Premiership club, a Fulham, Norwich, Southampton. Not Forest. There is just a complete leap between faith and reality where common sense is missed out. Does it seem too good to be true? Well therefore it probably is.

I tend to stick to linking to a collection of linked names and comment on what I feel the validity of these stories are. I think if we did a roundup of those transfer round ups less than 10% of those names actually ever sign because the vast majority are fairly out the blue.

Also people suggesting we should sign this or that player should remember contrary to what they think they don’t in fact know more than Billy, or the scouting staff. They will know that player already, but will either know he’s not right for the club, not available, not suited or suchlike. So you thinking you’ve unearthed a diamond and can’t understand the clubs lack of action is ridiculous.

The #ITK accounts are tiresome though. As if a football agent will sit there tweeting football deals going down. He’ll be actually doing deals, or trying to scupper deals. Anyone who has read the Secret Footballer will have a better idea of the vagaries of this art. An agent being overt in suggesting deals are going ahead isn’t going to be very successful, so ergo is unreliable as a source of gossip.

Anyone who claims to have an inside source is lying, as the club would have long identified likely sources of rumours. Remember these could well scupper a deal, letting others know a deal is being done or that the player in question might be open to claiming to the club.

So in essence, whatever you see out there as fact, unless from a recognised national paper reporting on us, it’s all lies. Even then with the likes of John Percy it’s probably still lies. As many now say on Twitter. Don’t believe it till Fawaz tweets it.

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