The media is tonight reporting that Cardiff are now at the front of the queue to sign Jonny Hayes, adding even more speculation to a situation which already has well and truly enough of it. The rumour factory has been rife in the last few days, from the moment the story first surfaced and refused to die.
The other day I heard a very strong rumour, from a reputable source, that Hayes would be doing a medical at the ROI training camp and signing a contract.
Neither of those things appears to have happened.
Was it because of the “Christie Clause”? I’d heard that from other people.
Was it because Aberdeen upped the asking price? I heard that from another.
But all the time I harboured one suspicion; that the story wasn’t true in the first place, that it was a media confection, a product of people adding 2 plus 2 to get 6 … or any answer that suited them to be honest. And I wondered, could that really just be to sell papers?
Because, honestly, who buys their papers anyway? Not us.
It dawned on me that it might be an old media trick; to link us to a player via assumptions – like “they worked together at Reading”, yeah twelve years ago when Hayes was a teenager – and circumstantial evidence – Brendan hugging him after the final; he hugged everybody else as well of course – and a few past statements about how the manager admired his general play, to whip that up into “Celtic prepare to make a bid” and then when someone else came in and signed the guy instead they get to write a story of how we were snubbed.
“Celtic lose first choice signing target to Championship team.”
We know how this works. We’ve seen it all before.
It’s curious, isn’t it? The Hayes story sounded odd, after all. As I said in the articles beforehand, this guy has been playing right under our nose for eight years now. Is this the first time the scouts have noticed him? Yes, he’d make a fine squad player – if he signs, on that basis, I think we can be reasonably pleased – but as a replacement for Roberts it’s a let-down of Biblical proportions. Do I believe our manager puts them on the same par? No.
Nothing about it really made sense, and those “links” to Brendan were, and are, simply ridiculous. Aberdeen can’t seriously be willing to sell him to us, for such a low figure, either can they? £1.2 million for their best player? Are they short of money?
That’s a club trying to sell season tickets of its own. What message does it send about their ambition to catch us if they sell this guy to us? It’s a much easier sell to their own fans if he ends up in England; they can sign someone else and never have to worry about him coming up to play them and scoring a winner in a big game.
None of it fitted together.
If he ends up at Celtic I will not be surprised. There are enough people whispering about the deal; in fact I spoke to a guy recently who told me there had been chatter in both ends of the ground – with a direct line to the player himself – at the final itself. Do I believe that? Not enough to have written a solid article on it, but enough that I took the story more seriously than I otherwise might have when it appeared in the press.
But nor will I be greatly surprised if he ends up in England, and if that happens you wait to see how the media spins it, because you better believe the “Brendan Rodgers Snubbed By Player Who’s Career He Launched” story is already written and filed away somewhere waiting to be blown onto the back pages of the papers.
And yes, I think, for some people, that was the hope all along.
Nothing sells better than a “Celtic lose out” story.
Unless it’s one turning a new Sevco signing into a world beater.