Everyone is so Socia-ball: How Social Media is revolutionising football

Life used to be so easy, no internet, no Twitter or Facebook, no SkySports News, the best source of news information on demand at the touch of a button, was teletext. Page 302 on BBC’s Ceefax and 401 which later became 410 on ITV’s teletext system were my favourites because they were the codes for the football pages. I was so good I could work that TV controller in the dark. ‘News in brief’ was a treat, a mini roundup of little news and transfer snippets…man porn. Other than that, the News of the World’s (RIP) gossip section was another port of call or blanketing the majority of the Sunday papers from the Mail to the Mirror just to find transfer gossip…oh how times have changed.

 
Not only do we now have a transfer window that compacts our excitement in to only a handful of months per year, we have a 24/7 sports news channel in SkySports News and also ESPN Sports Centre, this is only what’s available on Sky. Mike Parry has a new online sports TV channel and we haven’t even started on the countless football websites and Twitter, boy, do we have Twitter.
 
I say remember the days when it was so simple, it was. You would act out your transfer fantasy’s through Championship Manager, real transfers would happen more sporadically across the whole season. Granted, even back then the summer would be a busy time, but things used to come up and slap you in the face like one of those muppets who ‘happy slap’ unsuspecting victims. A story would break; you would hear about it somehow and before you know it, you are buying a paper to look at the back pages. Seeing Alan Sugar on a yacht in Monaco shaking hands with Jurgen Klinsmann…it’s only bloody JURGEN KLINSMANN!!! Now that’s a big signing, so exciting, out of no where…unbelievable Jeff. That was when exclusives really were exclusives…journalist really earned their money.
 
Enter the Internet and more recently Twitter, sitting there on deadline day has changed forever; Laptop, iPhone, iPad, SkySports on TV, Twitter open-so much going on. Don’t get me wrong all this is great for a football fan that needs feeding, Twitter has supplied me with various rumours that got me slightly aroused, but like the preverbal cock tease at a bar, they came to nothing. Twitter is great, I am a huge advocate and it is a big part of Football Rascal and my life, but it has completely revolutionised the delivery of instant information and there is no better time to see the best and worst of this around transfer deadline day.
 
Football Rascal follows as many fans, journalists, players and other football companies as we can on Twitter. The aim of Football Rascal is to bring you the best that is out there and keep you up-to-date with all the information you need to know. In the approach to deadline day Twitter is going off the Richter scale with football gossip and transfer banter. Be careful, everyone operates differently and credibility is key:

Players:

Yossi Benayoun (@YossiBenayoun15 ) gave everyone information on his move right from the horse’s mouth, no messing and no speculation, just a hint of mystery via his Twitter account.

Tom Huddlestone (@TomHuddlestone 6) Twitter on deadline day: “you won’t believe who’s just walked into the Spurs training ground” Which made SkySports News…he later followed it up with “Oh, it’s actually a new cleaner”. Rumours did the rounds and everyone took the bait, hook, line and sinker-why wouldn’t you, players are credible and in the thick of things, but also love banter.

Journalists:

Are there to break stories and beat others to the punch, they have an uphill struggle to beat the mighty SkySports who can dispatch an array of wannabe car park attendants the length and breathe of the country to be near the clubs, close to the action and first to the news. We saw SkySports outside Stoke with the Crouch signing, also outside QPR with players running in and out, whilst they were first to interview Shaun Wright-Phillips. A few local Journalists were good sources of information, but journalists also use Twitter for their own info, like John Cross from The Mirror.

Football blog/website/Twitter accounts:

The better ones keep you on the pulse and bang up to date with proper news, the worse ones start to speculate and we all love gossip. In the battle to move up the Twitter-achy a lot of these sites just make up rumours and put them out there just to gain followers. Examples of this were:

‘Gary Cahill to Liverpool a done deal-announcement expected’

‘Juan Mata to Liverpool will be announced at 5.30pm’

‘Nasri is at Melwood having a medical’ or ‘Nasri is at the private hospital where City do their medicals’

All a load of BS, but because these people get followers by spreading rumours, it spreads like wildfire by fans who want to believe. The authors of this fiction have credibility if they have followers, the ‘it must be true’ mentality comes out but it is not just fans, rumours can even dupe SkySports. In reality it is no different from a whisper you here at a match from other fans or what your mate tells you down the pub, no more credible, but the rate it spreads on twitter makes you believe.

Fake Accounts:

@Stewart_SD is a fake Twitter account for Liverpool and England player Stewart Downing that also caught out SkySports and few others on deadline day with a tweet regarding James Milner leaving England training:

 

Worst thing is people still follow the account and interact on a daily basis, the account has over 8400 followers even though it’s a fake, people don’t check, they want to believe and if they get a response from the ‘player’ it makes their day.

If you look at where these rumours start it is comical; someone with nothing better to do will make up the fake account and people will jump on it because it’s a footballer. Other company/blog
Twitter accounts work differently, some are good, but others are not, some even do things like putting stories out on their own account to give them credibility as a football ‘expert’ and then put it out on their ‘company’ twitter account. These people know naff all about inside football information, they are good at reporting and rehashing what more official sources are saying or reporting quickly. There are also a lot of educated guesses on transfers to get credibility with a ‘we told you so factor’ when the obvious happens or ‘you heard it here first’, feeding their own ego’s and justifying their existence.

My favourite has to be when Twitter accounts refer to a ‘source’ – ‘we hear from our sources that…’ blah blah blah. The only source, sorry sauce, these accounts have is Heinz ketchup. But the worst thing is people believe them, I mean they have 5000+ followers, must be true. Reality it is someone sitting in their bedroom or at work with nothing better to do. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really good accounts as well, but people just love to believe fiction.
 
So as I write this on the train with a guy playing FIFA on his phone next to me and guy opposite using a football app on his phone, there are so many enhancements that social media has bought to our lives, instant news as it happens…it’s amazing, but remember don’t believe everything you read.

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