Saturday 21 April 2018

The leaks, the media and Twitter madness - How the transfer window has turned nasty

Lukaku has agreed to join Manchester United
Lukaku has agreed to join Manchester United
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

So why have football transfers become poisonous and nasty?

After a frantic week of rumour, counter rumour and backchannel briefing of journalists from the three clubs involved, Romelu Lukaku is finally ready to complete his much-discussed move from Everton to Manchester United.

From the moment United officials briefed journalists to suggest they had agreed a £75m deal to sign Lukaku on Thursday morning, this was always likely to be the outcome of a story that was rapidly turned into a circus when a senior Everton official responded with a firm statement denying they had accepted an offer from United.

Evidently, Everton were eager to encourage Chelsea to make a counter-offer to try and snare the striker they had made their No.1 transfer target this summer, yet by the time the Stamford Bridge club were stung into a response on Friday, the die had been cast and Lukaku’s decision to move to Old Trafford had been made.

They are the basic facts behind a couple of days of transfer scrambling that was fascinating to behold and offered an insight into the pitfalls facing journalists in waters that have long since become shark infested.

Here is your Independent.ie guide to the transfer of the summer, from the perspectives of a variety of contributors.

THE LEAKS

United officials were clearly mistaken when they informed a select band of journalists that they had agreed a deal with Everton at around 10am on Thursday morning.

Independent.ie were among those who were then contacted by a senior Everton source to firmly deny a deal had been agreed, sparking backtracking aplenty from those who had reported the initial United leak.

The reporters given information by United that the Lukaku deal was in place were doing their job as they reported the information that had come their way, as were those given Everton’s version of events.

Read more here:

What followed was 48 hours of confusion, with Chelsea letting it be known that they had finally matched United’s bid for Lukaku late on Friday night.

Briefing reporters is a common policy in the game, even if the trolls who dominate the social media landscape refuse to believe it.

THE REPORTERS

No serious journalist ‘makes up’ a story in a bid to sell newspaper of get hits on a website. If they do that, their credibility would be shot to pieces very quickly.

We merely report the information that comes our way from senior sources at football clubs or from agents, even if some of that information turns out to be inaccurate.

In the modern game, only a handful of experienced reporters tend to have long-standing contacts that can feed them information that is worthy of publication, with the vast communications teams now assembled at top Premier League meaning input from outside sources is rarely needed.

Yet the events of the last few days have highlighted how some information that comes from a reliable channel can prove to be misleading.

TWITTER MADNESS

The crazy Twitter trolls leaped into overdrive as United confirmed they had agreed a deal to sign Lukaku on Saturday morning.

Journalists who had dutifully reported on the initial ‘Lukaku deal’ story leaked by United on Thursday morning were hailed as heroes, with anyone who dared to report on the Everton retractions or the Chelsea offer on Friday night greeted with a series of vile messages that highlight how some fans who have probably never set foot inside Old Trafford, Goodison Park or Stamford Bridge had had their lives dominated by the transfer.

The decline of Twitter in recent years has been down, primarily, to the troll culture that has exploded on the platform and the events surrounding the Lukaku deal created a feeding frenzy for those the faceless souls who like to spend their days goading journalists.

If you dip your toe into Twitter waters, you will not have to wait long to come across the attack hounds who delight in trying to start bitter arguments for their own pleasure.

At least Twitter have a mute button to silence those who insist on such madness.

Online Editors

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