Scheidt’s Footballing Miscellany can today exclusively announce one of the biggest transfer stories of the modern footballing era. The Guardian is to be transferred to Laughing Stock FC for a nominal fee in the summer. The Guardian, who are out of contract with real footballing news and journalism are said to be delighted to have this opportunity to kickstart their career after being frozen out of mainstream media by Newscorp United.
Seriously though, what does this now infamous Guardian story mean for the paper? Their staff have come under a lot of pressure for their hyping of the story of twitter using the hashtag #guardianexclusive which has since been hijacked by Twitter’s slew of satirists including those patently unfamiliar with the relation of the tag to football. A reactionary campaign to get Sports Editor Ian Prior sacked quickly sprang up as indelicate idiots dropped all prior evidence of The Guardian’s sterling work in relation to football and decided that it was the worst paper since The Sun (which- incidentally- is most of their idea of a classy publication) and that Prior was the equivalent of Kelvin MacKenzie and should be fired out of a cannon into the sun (pun not intended).
Admittedly while the story was not the most exciting news to come out of The Guardian’s sports desk over the last few years, the exclusive was indeed that, an exclusive. While a good player potentially moving to a big club in six months time might not have been the incredible footballing bombshell that everyone had expected, the likelihood of a move coming off seems now to carry far more weight than it did in the months previously. For our money, we believe that there must be something behind the story but, in case it never comes to anything, this story will be long since buried by the time we get to 1st July 2011.
Many of Prior and writer David Hytner’s critics pointed to the lack of quotes placed throughout the (rather long) article. Without knowing too much about this other than the ‘previous’ of the paper we would argue that there must have been some source who would likely prefer to remain nameless. We’re not sure but it’s supposed that discussing transfer policy might threaten one’s job unless you’re Marco Branca. Better to have no quotes than a Sun “source close to the club”, we would suggest.
Of course, speaking of Branca (Inter’s sporting director), poor old Ian Prior has since been lambasted on Twitter for linking to this goal.com article which speaks of Branca’s interest in signing the young Welshman. “Tsk, tsk… You should know better… What kind of journalist are you?…” Came the bleating of footballing “experts” up and down the country. Less than twenty minutes later, the same story appeared on Sky Sports’ Transfer Centre. This time with a source. Sky Italia. Goal- for once- seemed to have it right. Even the BBC, an organisation who are famously picky about what football stories they run, went with the story a full half hour before it even appeared on Goal.
Of course, the story speaks of a text message that Branca received from Tottenham head honcho Daniel Levy regarding the price of Gareth Bale which appears to rule the move out as Spurs are looking to sell Bale for far more than the £40m that Inter appeared to be willing to spend. Does this mean that The Guardian was wrong? No, of course it doesn’t. Branca’s statement that “The Tottenham president sent me a nice message saying that 40m euros was not much for Bale.” which implies (at least to us) that Inter had set aside those funds to purchase the left-sided player in the summer. Hardly an unreasonable assumption surely?
Let us not forget that whoever revealed this information to The Guardian has essentially gone their own way to price their own club out of buying him as Levy goes into his standard mode of attempting to inflate the price of one of his players. Naturally, Levy’s position is his choice. If he wants to try and get £50 or £60 million for a player that is, let’s face it, not worth that much then that’s his prerogative. However, for Branca to come out in the days following the much mocked “Exclusive” story and say that Levy had gone to the trouble to text him certainly suggests there’s more to this story than the fanciful day-dreaming of a bored newspaper journalist.
The real question remains whether Bale will end up moving or not. In the wake of the story much ire has been passed around the social networks about the incompetence of the journalists with many “eminent social commentators” (read: dickheads) pointing their wizened fingers at the use of social networking in order to build up a bit of buzz around a story which, we’ll admit, wasn’t the most exciting thing ever written about football, but did it seems have its basis in fact. The idea of an exclusive story is that no other news outlets have it. That’s what it was. An exclusive transfer story. No-one claimed that it would be about this transfer window and those claiming that the story was ‘pulled out of the air’ need only look at the evidence above to see that they might have jumped to conclusions too soon.
Vindication for The Guardian? We think so.