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Football News: How Football Transfer Rumours are mostly Fabricated

Having worked in the football news industry for a number of years, and having owned a football news publication I wanted to provide the loyal Football Rumours fans here with an insight on how football gossip articles are created, fabricated and put out there amongst the masses.

Unfortunately for football fans, and this is no secret, the vast majority of football transfer news is made up from scratch. The reason for this is money and increasing pageviews for websites.

Publications generally earn on what is called a CPM basis (Cost per Metric) which for you and I is Cost per 1000 people visiting. As an easy example we'll go with a Pound. So for every 1000 pageviews that's a cheeky quid to the owners. When we're talking millions of pageviews a day then it's easy to see how much money can be made.

But how do they get the pageviews? This is easier said than done and this is where the bullshit comes into it, misleading clickbait style headlines and full on lies to get fans to their sites.

As an example, let's use the latest Wayne Rooney move to Everton. If the headline was "Wayne Rooney about to move to Everton" it would not generate too much interest. Change it to "United Star Hitman on Verge of Move to Merseyside Rivals" and then we get plenty more interest. Which striker? Which Merseyside club? are some of the questions you would be asking, click, and they've got you. You quicky skim the article, see that it's related to Wayne and Everton and leave.

In the days where newspapers were king we would usually have seen a huge picture of him next to the headline but links to news sites online don't give that sort of information out, it's just the headline so that's the best trap publications can set.

Other headlines decide to leave out most information altogether, with one British sports service particularly good at it, in fact I would go so far as to say that they're limited to the amount of words or characters they can use in a headline. Headlines such as "Arsenal Break World Transfer Record" and then link it to ladies soccer could be deemed as clickbait, or simply "Arsene To Leave" which when clicked on simply suggests Wenger is about to leave the medical centre for a change.


Going back to the pageviews this is the most important aspect of bringing in the money. You will have what I used to call "nerds" (I expect they're called #Nerds or @Geek now) studying and analysing the analytical data from every single story they put out, if they find certain headlines aren't bringing in enough clicks, they'll find one's that do or in some cases tweak the headline somewhat.

If "Spanish Striker Heading Home" doesn't work, they could change it to "Mega Superstar Goal Machine Signing For Intergalactic Giants" to get more hits.

Onto the bullshit side of things. I've had e-mails accidentally e-mailed to me in the past suggesting stories. There was a case of receiving the following: "How about we say Liverpool want 3 Spurs players?". It would make for a good headline, attract both Liverpool and Spurs fans, but unfortunately is full of more manure than is probably used to fertilise their football pitches.

Here's a good recent one: "...Evra going back to Utd would be a good one but Liverpool interest would generate more discussion because of the Suarez incident....". Yep, bad isn't it.

I've been guilty of this in the past. If we go back a few years to when Modric was "rumoured" to be going to Chelsea. At the time I recall the amount of money being talked about was £25m. I produced a new story one evening that Chelsea were going to offer £35m which was a lot even just those few years ago. It got picked up by the BBC gossip column, and as it was a Friday, the then manager Harry Redknapp mentioned it in his press conference. I had completely made it up, whether it may have been true would have been pure luck. Apart from seeing Kat Deeley in London's Met Bar once, that's pretty much my only claim to fame.


I also remember starting a story about a Gladbach player, who I was going to say was moving to the Premiership. I was doing a little research on him when I saw pictures of his wife and two young children. I thought to myself that this man might read this, it might unsettle him, it might cause a discussion in their fammily, or worse still cause an argument between him and is wife. I stopped the story going out and that player still does well professionally in Germany. We have to remember that players are still humans and by making things up it can have adverse affects on them and their families, regardless of what is made of their wages.

Times are changing though, football news aggregation sites such as Newsnow and Scoopdragon have changed their rules. Whether positive or negative is debatable but smaller publications can now only produce a gossip story if it has already been suggested by one of the biggies. So when The Sun talk utter balls, other sites have to regurgitate it out with a different headline and a link pointing to them. All this means is that many sites have to simply repeat the rubbish the big one's have come out with.

Another thing from my notes is related to team popularity. Most visitors to team sites online aren't related to what you might think. For example Manchester United rumours aren't the most sought after. In fact, in order of most popular rumours in the online press it goes like this: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Spurs, Everton.

Moving away from the likely pub argument that "my club gets more rumours than your club" this is another opportunity for publications to get more hits to one article rather than two. You will have noticed a lot of articles always use two or more clubs in an article. Example: "Chelsea and Arsenal Go head-to-head For Barcelona Forward", with this we've got the attention of Chelsea, Arsenal and Barca fans in one swoop. "Liverpool and Everton interested in United target" would be another.

Another point to make is that the transfer period, or silly season, is only over 7 months of the year. That would be May to August and December and January, as stories start coming out thick and fast in May and December. This is where "journalist teams" really have their work cut out making things up.


Onto the betting side of things and this does make me chuckle. Unless you're the players best mate and he has told you he's going then I would leave betting on transfers well alone. We'll use the Sanchez saga as an example.

Certain Sports sites that have betting as part of their brand do put stories out about players leaving to get extra revenue in. At the time of writing, (I'll them SlyVet) have Sanchez leaving for man City at 2/7 - now that's quite big, you'd think it would be a dead cert, whether it does indeed happen though is beside the point. Do you know the odds SlyVet are offering for him to remain? 50/1? 100/1? I mean they seem pretty certain he's off to City, just 5/2. If they are that sure he was heading to the Etihad they'd have called off all bets. You can get a few bookies offering odds on players remaining and in most cases, if you are a bettor, that's normally the option just below not betting at all.

I hope this doesn't appear to be teaching you all to suck eggs and some of you have found it insightful. It's a dark murky World is football and having to fabricate stories to gain money is sadly something that has been happening for such a long time and is set to continue for much, much longer.


At the bottom of this post is a link to a site I had been on in the past. I think I was in 2nd place behind the Guardian at the time. It just shows you how much BS they come up with. Most only get around 30% correct which is shocking. If you really want to keep up with the latest then the Football-Rumours network is actually the best port of call. If you see a headline that reads "Darth Vader Of German Football On Verge Of Premiership Move" don't click it :)

Check here for transfer percentages correct: football transfer league

Written by Richie August 31 2017 16:30:05