I got the idea for that headline from the one that says Arsenal could lose Theo for just £400,000.
That story is in the Mirror in its football news section. Now the word “News” has within it the word “new” which means, well, sort of new – as in not old.
The actual story is that “FIFA rules mean that any buying club would just have to pay £80,000 training costs for every year that Walcott has been at Arsenal which would equate to just under £400,000 by the time his contract expires in the summer of 2010.”
Now that is not exactly new – the rules are there, have been for a while, and apply to everyone. Theo’s contract runs out in 18 months, and the most likely time to discuss a new contract is when CEO Ivan Gazidis is in position, and has got to grips with the club’s situation, and the manager’s wishes. So far Mr Gazidis has had, oh, well, let’s see, err, five days, of which one was a bank holiday.
In short the story is utterly misleading in every way. From recent history I can imagine Tottenham Hotspur forgetting to negotiate a new contract for a player and finding he gets away, but not Arsenal.
So, what about my headline. Well, technically yes journalists could be sued for libel. If they wrote a story which suggested that a club did not want a player and so were trying to off-load him, and the player felt that this downgraded his reputation, and reduced the prospect of him getting a pay rise, he could try it. It is a possible legal case, because he could argue he has suffered a real loss.
As to whether any player would ever do that… well, probably not – but that “probably not” is a lot higher certainty than Theo wandering off to Real Mad for£400,000.
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