This is a small part of a much more detailed piece of research I am undertaking. This is just for stories from January 2010, the full article will be for the whole of 2010.
I am looking at the success rate of the football transfer stories that crop up in UK newspapers. I am looking at rumours from the year 2010, as it is sufficiently long enough ago for any rumours to have come to fruition, and I am only looking at player transfer rumours. I.e. a story which says "TEAM A wants to sign PLAYER from TEAM B".
- The newspaper suggests one team wants to sign a player, but that the deal looks unlikely: it's hard to measure if this story is true; if the player moves, the paper can claim they were right, but the clubs worked out an agreement. And if the player stays, the paper can also claim to be right.
- The newspaper claims a player will move to a club in the near future. He doesn't, but signs for them in a later transfer window: this could be seen as a failure as they were wrong about him moving. However, they may well have been aware of interest from the buying club, so they got something right.
- The success rates are probably generous; I have not safeguarded against multiple rumours. For example, the Daily Mail persisted with the rumour that Fulham were going to sign Stefano Okaka on loan, which resulted in about five 'correct' rumours from the paper, even if they were all the same. To safeguard against this would have taken far too much time. It is somewhat counterbalanced by certain rumours (e.g. that Ruud van Nistelrooy or Klaas Jan Huntelaar were going to move to the Premiership) which despite being untrue, the newspapers persisted with.
- The general success rate for any paper is incredibly low. Of the papers with at least 10 rumours in the month, only the Guardian (40%) and the Times (36.8%) have anything approaching credible.
- Whilst the Daily Mirror has a better success rate than its two main rivals (the Sun and the Mail), the amount of rumours spewed from this paper meant that at times the gossip column was awash with all sorts of outlandish rumours from the paper.
The average for all the newspapers put together is 18.8%, which despite being very low, sadly does not prove that the newspapers make up a large proportion of their football rumour from thin air (which is what I suspect). All this undeniably proves is that: if your club is linked to a certain player, there is a 18.8% chance he will sign in that transfer window.
BBC Football - in particular the daily gossip column. It contains all the day's transfer rumours in one easy-to-read place, along with their sources.