You have to hand it to our friends at The Daily Record, right?
Few newspapers in this country can take a series of quotes, spin them or just outright distort them and run a complete story off of it.
Few other papers have the sheer cheek.
Today’s story is that Nir Bitton is set to leave Celtic in the summer for £10 million.
Take note; this doesn’t say “linked with a move” and it doesn’t say “may be the subject of a bid.”
It says set to leave.
They are claiming the deal is done, that Bitton is already saying his goodbyes.
You know, I understand that, in part, we’ve created the circumstances for this kind of report. Too many of our best players have been allowed to leave in the past couple of years, and the idea of us hanging onto one in light of interest from down south must seem refreshing and new.
But this is a player who just signed a new and improved long term deal!
Even for The Record, this is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
This all started with Bitton’s agent talking to a radio station in Israel, claiming he was now worth £10 million. Whenever I hear that the interview was conducted in a foreign tongue I get suspicious; this is The Record’s MO in a nut-shell. It’s their cue to write tripe and then later feign innocence.
Few people could disagree with the central thrust of the claim. Bitton’s a fantastic footballer, and the best midfield player at the club when Scott Brown isn’t fit.
He’s improved, massively, in the last 12 months and clearly has the potential to be a huge talent.
And as we’re dealing with the EPL and its inflated price tags, £10 million seems a fair assessment of what the player is currently worth, albeit I think he’d fetch more if we were playing in the Champions League, which you can wager against on Bet365.
Nir’s agent didn’t say much more than that.
What has happened here is typical, predictable and sad.
The Scottish media, and The Record in particular, have twisted his words every which way. Before long, the agent’s comments were being spun as a “come and get him” plea to the clubs of England, but The Record, as ever, went further and said more.
Today, Celtic has denied the story entirely, which is what you’d expect, but Bitton’s agent, Dudu Dahan – the foundation stone of The Record’s latest piece of fantasy – has also spoken out, and flatly denied ever saying that the player was set to quit Parkhead.
“He’s very happy at Celtic,” he said, before reminding the world of the new contract his client has just signed. He went on to say how much Nir “loves being at Celtic” and how committed he is to the club.
All this is to say that The Record has, again, been engaging in twisting words and manufacturing controversy where none exists.
Scottish football came to a halt over the weekend, as the bad weather saw many of the games called off, so if we were being generous we could put this down to it being a slow news day, and leave it at that.
But, of course, this is much more.
When a national newspaper writes blatant lies and still has the brass neck to stick a price tag on the cover it brings the whole journalistic profession into disrepute.
This story stinks so much that no-one was willing to put his name to it.
It appears, on the website, under the by-line of Record Sports Online.
It says something when no-one even wants to claim “credit” for a story like this, but it’s more about protecting the writers at that rag than protecting the profession itself. Neither the hacks or the editorial team at The Record care overmuch about the reputation of their trade.
I wouldn’t expect them to.
You have to be journalists first.
None of them qualify.