Do the English press want Bale to leave Spurs?

Posted by Dan Fitch

Anyone who spent any time on Twitter the past few days probably will have come across Spurs fans moaning about the way the Gareth Bale saga is being reported in the English press.

The accusation is that the press are guilty of translating a load of nonsense made up by Marca -- a Spanish sports publication whose integrity ranks slightly below that of the National Enquirer -- and presenting it as fact.

-Real's Zidane wants quick resolution on Bale
-Bleat: Bale might be 'too young' for Madrid
-Marcotti on Bale reports


There’s even been suggestions the English press want Bale to leave for Madrid. So are the Tottenham supporters right, or guilty of indulging in crackpot conspiracy theories? As is often the case in arguments, there’s merit in both points.

I don’t believe that the press are working to an agenda borne of a desire to see Bale transferred. Not even those journalists who support Arsenal or West Ham.

The Premier League is their bread and butter, so it’s actually in their interests for the best players to stay in England.

A Spurs fan might ask why there are so many stories which suggest that Bale is on his way, with seemingly little evidence to back it up. "Where are the quotes?" they ask.

The truth is that a story claiming that Real Madrid have offered a world-record 100 million-euro transfer fee for Bale is a much sexier story than a well-reasoned piece on why it would be in Tottenham’s interests to keep him. The newspapers’ only agenda is to sell more copies and attract Internet traffic.

On the issue of quotes, the press routinely publish copy based on "insider" information. They can’t name the sources because those sources would stop giving them information. It’s kind of why you never heard Starsky and Hutch explaining to villains they only caught them because Huggy Bear told them where their hideaway was.

So there's been a lot of Tottenham fans getting hot under the collar, mainly due to their own naivete. That’s not a crime, though, and it doesn't mean that they're idiots.

I’ve seen journalists responding with smugness and condescension to Spurs supporters questioning these stories. Unless those Tottenham fans have been unnecessarily rude, then they don’t deserve to be treated that way.

Why should people who don’t work in the media understand every nuance of how journalists go about their work? All the average punter can see is a 600-word story claiming that Bale will be sold, yet without any tangible evidence to support the claim.

You can’t report that Real Madrid are ready to offer £50m, Fabio Coentrao and Angel di Maria -- while neglecting to state the obvious fact it is highly unlikely that di Maria would want to join Spurs -- and expect anyone to take it seriously.

Football journalists should also consider that football supporters have no requirement to be rational when it comes to their team.

When you take up a career writing about football, you are expected to hang up your allegiances at the door and adopt a broadly neutral tone. Why, I've even written balanced pieces about Arsenal.

This is a choice that a football writer makes. The football supporter hasn't made that choice.

Supporting a football team is basically illogical, but we do it because it makes the wait between now and death a lot more fun. In this illogical world, partisanship is key. Football supporters are not measured individuals bound to look at both sides of the argument. All they care about is their club and such folk (me included) are prone to occasionally acting like blinkered lunatics.

Spurs fans are desperate for Gareth Bale to stay. When they don't want to believe the stories being written, and you don’t give them a reason to do so, don’t be surprised when they call foul.

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