Football Clubs, the Media and the art of the non-transfer

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Telling a football fan “don’t believe what you read” is stating the obvious and that is why club fanzines and many independent online club sites exist. But the proliferation of the media in all of its forms, whether the net, twitter, the newspapers or TV, has become like deciphering the Da Vinci Code. So let’s just explore a few ways in which the media is utilised during the transfer window. And pardon the pun, but lets make it a little more transparent.

Here’s a transfer story for you. Joey Barton will NOT be joining Stoke City. Its a  pretty pointless article as it is telling us that the transfer isn’t going to happen, yet we see these stories regularly throughout the transfer window. We can discount it because of Barton’s probable wage demands set against Stoke’s limited wage structure. Given his ambitions and the status of his previous clubs, Barton would more likely join a “Champions League” side.

So where could such a story come from? Is it simply made up by the media to fill column inches or is there a minor element of truth? Well there are several possibilities. The selling club are not directly touting the player to Stoke but merely reminding the other clubs that he is available. Barton’s agent may be touting the player also to state that he is available. Alternatively, both the selling club and agent could be using Stoke as a “ghost” suitor to quicken a deal being reached with another club and subsequently increase the asking price. It is very likely that Stoke have not even considered signing Joey Barton.

This repeated touting of players has very little bearing on reality and this is why so many “transfers” simply fail to materialise by the end of the Transfer Window. But it doesn’t end there.

One of the most familiar stories during this transfer window has been that of Luka Modric at Tottenham Hotspur. “He is not for sale” say Daniel Levy and Harry Redknapp. Yet in the next breath “we would only accept a ridiculously high offer for him”. Harry Redknapp is a great manipulator of the media. The idea is to state that his club want to keep their player (to show he is valuable) whilst still touting him by stating that he is not for sale. If he isn’t for sale then why repeatedly keep mentioning him? West Ham United fans saw this same method in use when Rio Ferdinand was finally sold to Leeds United for a record breaking £18 million.

Then of course there is the players use of the media. There is the “face-saving” exercise where a player states that he does not want to leave the club. Then suddenly he is signed by another club on higher wages but still liked by the fans of the club he is departing from. Then there is of course the demands of  “I want” which hide the probable increase in salary. There is a long list of these. I want Champions League football, I want European football, I want Premier League football, I want regular first team football, My wife doesn’t like it here, my kids haven’t settled. This is pretty much an infinite and sometimes hilarious list.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg and there are many other area’s where the media is manipulated within football but what can fans read or view which will offer them the truth? Quite simply there isn’t anything until a deal is done. However, fans are learning not only how to read between the lines of a transfer story but where that story may have emanated from and why. Where the Da Vinci Code has its own language of signs, football has its own language. What is evident is that it is no longer simply stories made up by the media. I’m sure that many fan’s on this site can state stories relating to all of the scenarios above for every one of their clubs. are seeking new writers to join the team! If you’re passionate about football, drop us a line at “” to learn more.

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