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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Transfer Deadline Day: Social Media Review

The latest publication of my 'On the Social' column from the Bristol City matchday programme, Red Alert: Brighton, September 10th 2011

When the creation of a seasonal deadline for transfers was announced by UEFA a number of years ago, very few could have forecast the levels of excitement that would be created and the annual event it has swiftly become. The more cynical amongst you could perhaps now suggest it was a policy orchestrated by satellite television, such is the hype and sheer hysteria produced in the build-up to, and during, August 31st each year.

However it is not just about television and that, in part, is what makes it such a success. Fans can become involved, whether it’s just listening out for a mention of their team, or by interacting with news sources to try and claim an exclusive. BBC Sport’s website quickly latched onto this roller-coaster of a day a few years ago with a live text commentary running throughout and have embraced fans interaction by publishing selected comments from readers’ texts, emails and now tweets.  

They are just as likely to publish a quote from Rob in Hemel Hempstead who apparently “has a mate, whose cousin’s girlfriend works at a Spanish airport and has just seen Lionel Messi getting on a private plane to Newcastle”, as they are to quote a BBC journalist with an inside line or a fan who is camped outside their club’s offices watching new players arrive. You have to pick and choose the ones you believe.

Despite numerous false stories, Twitter really came into its own this year. In previous years an avid fan might watch Sky Sports News, whilst flicking between three or four news websites scanning for fresh stories on a possible transfer that the others haven’t picked up on. This year, with the sheer volume of sources now on Twitter, one could simply refresh their timeline all day and get updates from any number of BBC journalists, Sky reporters, the written media and even the players themselves. When you see “Sky Sources claim…” on their coverage you can be fairly sure that the source is somewhere on Twitter.

News of Arteta’s move to Arsenal broke on Twitter

Twitter sources were the first to break the story that Mikel Arteta’s move to Arsenal was back on (Sky were on an adverts break at the time) and first to confirm a number of players turning up for medicals or contract discussions. Most of the day’s high-profile transfers were presented first on Twitter. 

The players also got involved, confirming and dispelling a number of rumours. Amongst others, Yossi Benayoun tweeted that he was in London and Anton Ferdinand gave the most direct update possible on his transfer to QPR (see below).

In some ways, journalism has become markedly easier thanks to Twitter, with a constant source of opinion and reaction from fans, players, staff and officials alike giving sufficient content for any commentary or article. The problem is that rumours started without any foundation become fact before you know what has happened.

Scanning down my timeline on Wednesday morning I saw this tweet from fellow City fan @Barnzy_BCFC: “Hearing rumours of Ryan Bertrand going to Bristol City on a season long loan”. This was picked up by the BBC and printed on the website as a rumour. 

As we all now know, nothing came of it.  However, lo and behold in the next morning’s Sun newspaper, it was there in print: “Bristol City: Ryan Bertrand, season-long loan”.

Don’t believe everything you read!

The Exiled Robin (@cider1977)

Transfer deadline day
@Anton_ferdinand (replying to his brother, Rio): “waitin around 2 go 4 the medical, jus heard a rumour that I failed it! Don’t know where that’s come from!”

Everton’s @louissaha08 (seconds after it was revealed Mikel Arteta’s move from Everton to Arsenal was back on) “Aaaaaaaaaaaaah. What is going on???”

Following Man.Utd 8 Arsenal 2:
@WayneRooney to Arsenal fan and regular antagonist, Piers Morgan “hello mate. How r u”
@piersmorgan in response: “I’m suicidal Shrek. Thanks for asking”

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