After about five years in which the Internet Bampots broke major stories almost every day, where we explored the backgrounds of Whyte, Green, King and others it is nice to know that the Scottish media is finally taking internet writers seriously.
Except … no they aren’t.
Today a number of mainstream media websites are drooling all over themselves because of last night’s internet nonsense, which this site called as just that even as it was at its height. And to give Celtic fans their due, most didn’t need to read here or anywhere else that this was just someone trolling for retweets or hits … it was pretty damned obvious anyway.
But it’s good to know the media takes this stuff so seriously.
Even if it does make them look even more absurd than they usually do.
In fact, when you examine their coverage the tone of it is slightly mocking, which is just what I expected and was concerned about. Written with that “Oh God … the internet …” roll of the eyes, this is another one of those stories you’ll hear a Radio Clyde caller getting slapped with one day when he makes a perfectly valid point about something else entirely.
Only one newspaper took it semi-seriously; The Daily Record, because this story, in all its absurd daftness, was retweeted by an over-zealous staffer at BetFair, and because the tweet carried the words Breaking News in it.
Lunacy, and even more so that The Record thought that made it a story.
But as I said last night, BetFair weren’t the only online bookie who thought this stuff was worthy of reporting.
In failing to write that The Daily Record, at first glance, has missed that, amidst all the fluff, there actually was a real new-story in all this.
In truth, there was no prospect of The Record “missing” that story.
They saw it quite clearly, but the chances of them writing it were somewhere between slim and none.
In their haste to get last night’s speculative garbage onto their site this morning – and in using BetFair as their hook – they’ve inadvertently given us a peek under the curtain at relationships they probably wish were still relatively unknown.
But the Internet Bampots are way ahead of them here.
Last night, when the fever was as its peak, the league’s official sponsor, Ladbrokes, decided that they too would get in on the act and publicise this tale, which to call it “made up pish” would be to give it far more substance than it actually deserves.
Why did they do that?
And why did The Record highlight BetFair instead of basing their story on the fact that Ladbrokes, a company much closer to home, had also publicised the lie?
The real story lies in the PR firm that represents Ladbrokes and with whom The Record has more than just a fleeting relationship; Level 5.
As one Celtic site – VideoCelts – broke in the aftermath of Ladbrokes signing their sponsorship deal with the league, the company then announced that they had hired Level 5 to handle their press and media relations.
But the triangular relationship between Level 5, Ladbrokes and The Daily Record goes back further than the signing of that agreement.
Amongst many individuals connected with Level 5 is ex-Celtic player Murdo MacLeod, who wrote a testimonial for their website and attended their launch as a special guest and patron.
As it turns out, he’s also one of the “Ambassadors” for Ladbrokes, for whom he’s done quite a bit of PR work, including some writing.
And wouldn’t you know it, but much of that is picked up and run as stories and opinion pieces in The Daily Record, especially when it has an anti-Celtic slant.
Some of this stuff appeared on Ladbrokes own website last year, although, oddly enough, it can no longer be found on their pages.
The connection between the two companies was already literal; Level 5 had clearly been working alongside Ladbrokes before the SPL deal was signed.
Level 5’s relationship with The Daily Record is also well established and goes back to their founding.
And at the same time, of course, Level 5, which is run by Jim Traynor, whose prior employers include The Daily Record, had been working hand in hand with another important group of clients.
Dave King and his group of fellow travellers.
Level 5 were their PR people all the way through their efforts to destabilise the previous Sevco board.
They were aided and abetted, in no small part, by the Daily Record itself.
Now that King is on the board, Level 5 are the PR firm who represent the club, completing a lovely wee picture of West of Scotland mutual benefit right out of the local lodge.
It was a Level 5 staffer who told the media, at an Ibrox news conference last year, that anyone who asked about title stripping would be told to leave.
I don’t use Ladbrokes and I don’t buy The Record.
I’ve contributed precisely nothing to this incestuous affair, so under normal circumstances I wouldn’t give a damn what these people did to scratch each other’s backs.
But last night’s story was one that claimed Ronny Deila had been replaced, and that his successor was on the way to Glasgow.
This came shortly after Deila himself had appeared at his usual pre-match press conference to talk about tonight’s game.
So for just a moment last night, the Celtic bosses’ phone would have been red hot with calls and texts asking him if he’d been fired, and drawing his attention to the story.
I don’t want to suggest that some of those making the calls would have been deliberately trying to cause trouble, but is it merely speculative to suggest that at least one of them might have been urging him to check it out because the story was being lent credibility by the league’s own sponsor?
In that case job done, because at that point the manager has to get on the phone to Peter Lawwell, doesn’t he?
He has to ask for clarification.
He has to start wondering if the Michael O’Neill story and the Giggs one, on the same day, is coincidence or proof that stuff is going on behind the scenes.
For my own part, I now regret running with the O’Neill story yesterday, and I promise you all this; I’m not going to repeat another rumour about Deila’s future whilst he’s still in post or until an official announcement has been made by the club clarifying his position.
The Giggs story appears to have originated in England, with a guy calling himself a “freelance journalist” who was clearly just trying to get retweets and followers.
There was not an ounce of truth in it, as anyone who took five seconds to check out the source and his people, as well as Manchester United’s own statement to the press, would have known, and did know.
Some people spread the story anyway, for their own reasons.
Not all of those were simply about getting their own social share numbers up.
Some had much more sinister motives and The Daily Record convinced me of that this morning when they decided to publicise the tweet by BetFair and not the one from Ladbrokes, which is closer to home and more important by far.
This isn’t a one off. This is an unfolding scandal, and worth watching, now and into the future.
As Joe at VideoCelts said at the time, and as Paul67 repeated on CQN, there’s a major conflict of interest here which the league’s governing body appears not to give a stuff about.
It’s not the first anti-Celtic story Ladbrokes have pushed since their sponsorship deal was signed.
And I suspect it will not be the last.
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