About Me

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I'm a journalist, ex-national papers, now working in what we call "new" media.
Transfer rumour stories are a staple of sports pages yet, as any fan knows, the ratio of fact to speculation is tiny. Most fans take these tales with a large pinch of salt and enjoy them simply as tittle-tattle and rumour. Newspapers tend to treat them in the same light and don't always require very high standards of proof for a "Player X is considering joining Club Y" tale.

In fact, though, a story claiming that someone is secretly negotiating to breach the terms of their contract of employment (which is basically what a lot of these tales amount to) could be highly defamatory.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has just won damages against a sports website that falsely alleged that he was considering a move to Real Madrid. It's the first such case that I am aware of. I've no idea how much checking the reporter who wrote the story did but, if other players follow Gerrard's lead, sports pages could become speculation-free zones.

As a fan, I think that would be a shame. But I can see Gerrard's point of view in all this. Why should anyone have to sit by while journalists write untrue stories effectively labelling them as disloyal?