The Monday After: Best kept secrets

We’re in an interesting time of year when fans everywhere are keen to know the make-up of their team for next season so speculation is naturally rife.

Visit any fans forum, Twitter or any other social media platform and it’s full of people claiming they’d love to have certain players in their team or have heard rumours their team is talking to or have signed a particular player.

While doing that, check the same platforms for any professional football club up and down the country and you’ll see the same sort of chat/discussion/dismissal of opinions of sources.

Now, let’s take those discussions and put them on a media platform or to a newspaper.  If you look at a newspaper today, or any other day this week, you’ll see a back page exclusive of one of the top football clubs linked with a signing, or the signing has been made and that confirmation is due.

In that sport in particular, this is every day practice.  Recently in Scotland, one of the top tabloids revealed that Steve Clarke would take over as Scotland manager days before the SFA made the announcement to confirm the news.

There wasn’t an outcry that The Scottish Sun had leaked news or betrayed any confidences in doing this.  Someone at the paper was given the wink by a pal or an acquaintance at the SFA to run the story.  The same thing will happen when Man Utd/Liverpool/Rangers/Celtic are on the verge of making signings.  That’s how it works.

Which leaves me scratching my head over people getting all defensive whenever someone lets slip a rumour that’s doing the rounds which proves to be true.

In football, news of Steve Clarke’s appointment as Scotland coach was broken days before the Scottish FA formally announced the news (PHOTO: Sky Sports)

In this business, people hear things all the time.  Some choose to post on social media. Others keep their powder dry.  We could post half a dozen signing stories right now that we know are in the pipelines, but there’s something  about not putting a story out before the club does that fans seem to hold dear.

Why is that?  What’s with the big secret?

I completely follow the argument it’s the club’s news and they should put it out, but if people are already talking about it and it’s imminent, where is the harm in having local media, for example, getting the scoop?  It gets people talking, even builds excitement among the fanbase.

The club will generally have the interview with the coach, the new player and get the exclusive chat once the ink is on the contract regardless so why is the source of announcement seen as so important?

I can’t get my head around why people are so uptight on this issue, given that it is positive news and you’ve got the fans buzzing as the club prepare the metaphorical unveiling, which will lead to loads more hits and views on their various media platforms.

Sure, you’ll get the odd red herring.  After all, there’s the running joke this day that there’s still someone at Glasgow Airport waiting for Colt King to arrive to sign for the Clan.  While there’s no action, we should be keeping ice hockey in the headlines with constant signing news and speculation.

It was tweeted over the weekend that Stevie Lee is on his way to Guildford.  Clearly someone’s been given the heads up on it, maybe not by Flames, but it’s something that’s got people talking and you would imagine Guildford fans will be quite delighted by this.

Stevie Lee’s possible future destination was revealed online without the club’s announcement as yet, but it’s got Guildford fans pleased (PHOTO: Panthers Images)

If it comes off, then it hasn’t taken anything away from the news.  The announcement will still be treated with the same level of excitement it should be.  If those putting it out is wrong, they’ll have egg on their face.

Maybe it’s time for the clubs to start working with their media, whether local or online and help get more headlines for their teams and generate more discussion.

We complain ice hockey doesn’t get enough coverage so with no pucks being hit in these summer months, what a great way to do it by keeping it going until we’re at the point we’re ready to see the players perform again.

Trust is a big part of it of course, so if teams and their local scribes have a good relationship, why not let them run a scoop and see the interest generate from there?  I guarantee when the confirmation comes, the traffic will still be high for the organisation.

After all, if we all know what’s going on, at least, those of us privileged enough to know anyway, then what’s the harm in helping get some interest and get some love going for your new guy, whoever it may be.

We’re dealing in ice hockey signing news after all.  Not state secrets.

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