Saturday, 9 August 2014

How much should fans want to know?

I was intrigued by a recent posting on a fans' board by a highly respected and well-informed fan. It raised an important point that questioned the conventional wisdom. It was argued that the price of an admission ticket simply entitled fans to watch the game, it did not give them the right to know what was going on 'behind the scenes'.

Of course, if they purchase a Valley Review (and less than half of those attending do), you will find features like 'Dressing room diaries' or features on particular players which provide exciting insights on banter between players, who shares a car to the training ground with whom and player nicknames.

Clubs realise that there is a market for 'inside dope', but with the development of social media, fans have taken this over for themselves. Of course, the rumours that gather momentum are often scurrilous or inaccurate.

The writer of the post was particularly concerned about transfer speculation. This is particularly active at the start of the season before the transfer window closes. It was argued that there were issues of commercial confidentiality, and moreover that speculation could actually jeopardise some deals.

Perhaps so, but such speculation is not going to go away. It is often started by agents who claim that more clubs are interested in their player than is actually the case to generate interest and force up the price. Perhaps the claim is picked up by one site and repeated by others so that the rumour gains a superficial credibility.

It might be argued that fan blogs pour oil on the flames. Maybe so, but I do treat sites like Sky Sports News seriously. Admittedly, I am partial as I sometimes broadcast for Sky Sports News or Sky News. This generally happens on slow news days: the low point was one Sunday when I had to talk about 'Englishness' in front of the Shakespeare birthplace which led to Japanese tourists treating me as a bonus photo opportunity. But I have always been impressed by their professionalism.

Modern society demands transparency so that 'sweetheart' deals can be revealed and those 'on the make' can be exposed. There is a case for greater openness, but it is not an absolute good. Conflict resolution often has to start with informal, private contacts that would be regarded as unacceptable and could not continue if they were exposed (think Northern Ireland). Once EU Council of Ministers meetings started to be streamed, all the real negotiation was done in the corridors and formal statements of positions, often for domestic consumption, were made in Council. Demands for privacy can conflict with those for openness, as we have seen recently with Google.

In any case, one is not going to stop speculation by fans, It is part of the fun of following football.


Brian G said...

Stop, not start, speculation by fans, Wyn?

Wyn Grant said...

Thanks, shouldn't do these things when I first get up and should proof read more carefully.