Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football. Have your name in the book as an official sponsor. Updated information here
From here, we’ll move on to consider:
Possible “shady” motives
1) Agents attempting to sell players
In my previous UM report, I highlighted:
“certain comments made by Arsène Wenger from time to time regarding transfer rumours about Arsenal. For example:
The following exchange took place between Arsène and a journalist during the Pre-Leeds press conference:
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
“Q: I know you’ve said in the past you’re not the biggest fan of the January transfer window.
Arsène: No. I’m still not.
Q: Might it be different this year? I mean, you’ve been linked with a couple of players….
Arsène: Well, every agent who wants to sell his player links himself with Arsenal, most of the time. But at the moment we are not on any concrete case apart from Thierry Henry.”
If the opinion Arsène expressed about agents during this exchange is correct, we can thus conclude that a large number of the transfer reports listed in the quiz were leaked by agents attempting to “sell their players.” But what does that mean, exactly?
Transfers from one club to another would certainly be included in the above statement. One of the more innocent motives that would fall into this category might concern a young player whose agent is simply attempting to generate some hype or publicity about that player, and get his name out. Or perhaps a player is looking for a transfer, and his agent is attempting to generate hype around him for that purpose.
For example, at the time when Nicklas Bendtner was looking for a transfer away from Arsenal, a huge number of transfer reports came out linking Bendtner with every major club in Europe, essentially. I personally suspect that Bendtner’s agent was leaking these reports in an attempt to promote Bendtner and make him more marketable. In general, I see nothing truly nefarious about agents leaking transfer rumours for these reasons.
However, transfers are not the only player sales that occur in football, although the other types of sales are much more secretive and shadowy, and often of questionable legality.
In my money laundering series, I haven’t gotten around to the issue of 3rd party ownership of players just yet, but it is an issue that I believe factors heavily into this type of transfer reporting.
While the specifics of how these third party transactions occur are somewhat shadowy, given the questionable legality of many such transactions, it does seem to be fact that many “sales” of players occur that have no relationship whatsoever to an actual transfer between clubs.
For example, parties will trade in things like the “playing rights” of a particular player, or his “image rights.” These types of third party transactions involving ownership rights to players occur year round, irrespective of whether or not the transfer window is open or approaching. It is thus possible that, particularly with regard to transfer rumours that are published when no transfer window is near, some of these transfer reports leaked by agents relate to player “sales” other than transfers, and such sales may or may not be legal.
The market for third party ownership rights to players is particularly strong in South America, and I would thus look for this motive to be in play with regard to transfer rumours about players from those countries. For an example from the quiz, I would look closely at:
“Arsenal is preparing a £23m January offer for Porto’s Hulk.”
Note the following excerpt from the article itself:
“It was reported that Arsenal were in the hunt for Hulk and were preparing a £23m January offer for the Brazil international…
A swap deal however will have certain issues as the player is currently also owned by a third party. Although Porto do own 85% of the prolific goalscorer it would be somewhat of a complicated deal to offer cash and a player for someone who is owned by numerous parties.”
2) Attempts to influence the gambling markets
On transfer deadline day, Sky Sports carried live reports throughout the day of all of the latest breaking transfer news and rumours. At the same time, Skybet (which I refuse to link to) was also “live,” offering “live betting” on whether or not said transfers were going to occur.
I personally know very little about how the gambling markets in player transfers operate, because it’s an issue that I haven’t had time to research yet. However, the above scenario nonetheless seems to suggest a certain conflict of interest, does it not? Specifically, if Sky has a financial interest in causing the public to place bets on certain transfers, does it not seem that this might influence their reporting about those same transfers?
This incestuous relationship that exists between the media and gambling interests is a highly significant issue, and most certainly needs to be investigated further. However, for the time being, let’s just say that some media reporting about transfer rumours is likely influenced by the gambling markets in player transfers.
3) Destablilization of a club and/or team
On the subject of the potential use of transfer rumours to destabilize a club, we will once again turn to certain comments made by Arsène Wenger. Specifically, prior to the Norwich match, Arsène expressed the following opinion about Blackpool in an interview with Arsenal player:
Arsène: “We have seen last year Blackpool, who in the end was unfortunate because they had, I think…players who were unsettled by other clubs, but as long as they were stable psychologically they could win everywhere.”
If we take Arsène’s words as true, this would indicate that transfer rumours can, in fact, be used to destabilize a club by unsettling certain players. As such, it is certainly possible that transfer rumours (particularly those concerning key players) might have been leaked for the sole purpose of destabilizing Arsenal. Untold Media has previously expressed concern about this issue with regard to transfer speculation about the future of Robin Van Persie.
With regard to the rumours included in the quiz, I would suspect this motive in the reports about RVP, Theo Walcott, and Alex Song. The names of these players often come up in news reports parroting the “exodus from Arsenal” if Arsenal doesn’t “splash big cash” talking point, as players who are going to leave if Arsenal doesn’t spend as directed. Because of that, I would personally expect these particular reports to be linked to that campaign.
Overall, there are many possible motives to leak or publish false transfer rumours. And unsurprisingly, this large number of motives leads to an equally large number of false transfer reports. Some of these reports are likely intended to further legitimate business dealings, whereas others are likely linked to much more nefarious goings on. With regard to UM’s transfer quiz specifically, I would posit that all of the above factors likely played a role in the decision to report some of the rumours on the list.
Out of all of these rumours, I find the “exodus from Arsenal” rumours to be the most threatening to Arsenal. These reports are also linked to the transfer market on another level, in the sense that the motive for these likely efforts to destabilize the club seems to be to coerce Arsenal to spend additional money in the transfer market. And the question that brings to my mind is, once again, WHY? Why would someone go to such effort, and care so much, about where and how Arsenal spends its money?
That, I believe, is the most important transfer market-related issue facing Arsenal at the current moment, and it is on that issue that we will primarily focus as we continue our examination of the operations of the global transfer market.