Monday, 17 May 2010
Torres to Chelsea? Should we believe what we read in the papers?
As the season comes to a close, attention once again turns to the transfer window. Fans expectantly wait to discover who their club will bring in over the summer, and which players are deemed surplus to requirement. The problem is that clubs generally keep their transfer dealings quite private. This means that fans resort to following the rumours published in the daily newspapers. However, it is difficult to know how reliable these rumours actually are – do they actually know something or have they simply made them up? And are some papers more reliable than others?
The tabloids are by far the most prolific rumour-starters. In particular, the News of the World has produced an average of 6.94 rumours per day, since the beginning of the 2006 summer transfer window. They are followed by the People (3.27 per day), the Daily Mirror (2.97) and the Sun (2.12). Unsurprisingly, the broadsheet press publish far less rumours – the Daily Telegraph produce only 0.29 per day, followed by the Guardian (0.32), the Independent (0.36) and the Times (0.65). These statistics are not really that surprising. It is common knowledge that the tabloids tend to print more rumours, compared to the broadsheets, which tend to post more analytical material. However, is there any correlation between the type of newspaper and the accuracy of their rumours?
Despite printing by far the greatest number of rumours, the News of the World has the lowest percentage of correct rumours. A correct rumour is defined as one that has led to either the player making the transfer mentioned in the rumour, or signing a new contract as specified in the rumour. The News of the World has a success rate of only 12.19%, although it is generally more accurate for the larger teams, such as Manchester United (20.41%) and Chelsea (18.18%) than some of the smaller clubs like Stoke (4.55%) and Hull (4.00%). The People is only fractionally better with a success rate of 13.25% and the Daily Mirror scores a 18.05% success rate.
The most accurate newspaper in England is the Guardian, which accurately predicts 30.34% of its rumours. It is closely followed by the Independent (26.69%) and the Times (25.79%)
Therefore, it is noticeable that the broadsheets, despite printing far fewer rumours, are actually far more accurate. It seems to suggest that they are generally far more careful with the rumours that they print, taking more time to research them, rather than the somewhat scattergun approach of the tabloid press, who are more likely to publish their ‘big scoops’ solely to attract new readers.
The final interesting thing to look at is which teams’ transfer activities are usually most accurately captured in the rumour columns of newspapers. Interestingly, it is Burnley, Wigan and Birmingham that come out highest in this. Manchester United are the first big team to show up in the list in 4th, with 26.3% of rumours printed about them turning out to be true. Liverpool are the only other big spenders to appear in the top half of the table, with a 25.5% accuracy rate.
Chelsea languish down in 18th place in the table, with only a 18.15% success rate. Other upper half Premiership sides, Manchester City, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton and Arsenal are all in the lower half of this table. This is interesting as it suggests that the more successful a side is in the Premiership, the less accurate the rumours concerning their transfers. This could potentially be because more obscure links begin to spring up concerning the bigger sides, especially those that tend to spend larger amounts of money in the transfer windows.
For example, in the past couple of months, Chelsea have been linked with Fernando Torres, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Frank Ribery, David Villa, Edin Dzeko, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaka on more than one occasion. Clearly all of these are not going to be true – indeed, it would be surprising to see more than about two or three of these at Chelsea next season.
It is only natural that the big sides should have more rumours printed about them – it is these big sides that sell newspapers. As a result, it would only appear natural that fewer of these rumours are correct. It is not the case that big sides buy more players than the small clubs – if anything, it is the reverse. However, it is interesting to see that it is the broadsheet newspapers that are the most accurate, despite printing the fewest rumours.
(Data from http://www.footballtransferleague.co.uk)