The rise of the Internet Bampots owes much to the events of 2012, when the media took the side of the SFA as they prepared to make a corrupt decision, only for the fans to find their voices and put their own pressure on the clubs.
A lot of the blogs grew from there. For others, they evolved from being focussed purely on Celtic to concentrating on the wider game.
One of the reasons the blogs are so successful now is that the gap between them and the media has closed.
That’s because the press has gone backwards, not because the blogs have made giant strides.
I mean, we have … but not so big as to close that gap on our own.
You have to understand that most blogs will never have the so-called legitimacy that goes with being part of the mainstream media.
For the most part we don’t have access to interviews with players, managers or coaches.
We don’t get invited to press conferences or briefings.
Perhaps we should. That’s an argument that I am sympathetic to, and it’s something I’d be up for.
But it hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t forsee it changing any time soon.
Some of the blogs have good sources. I include this one.
But those sources aren’t the same ones who are available, and who talk to, the mainstream titles. There are people who would rather pass good information on to the blogs, but for the most part those who are “in the know” are friends with folk in the press pool and prefer to deal with them.
Dressing room leakers likewise. And there are a lot of those.
Very little escapes their attention … and there are stories that would be just too juicy not to write. Try to remember that. There are things you just couldn’t keep in a tunnel or a dressing room. They would get out. They are just too damned big to ignore.
The last two weeks have been amongst the most febrile I’ve ever known as a blogger, with “information” being tossed about like confetti. Most of it has been nonsensical, and not just a little bit but purely and simply bonkers. Or bollocks, if you’ll pardon an unfortunate pun which I know is awful but that I just couldn’t resist.
Now, I’ll admit that when the early version of these stories emerged I thought there was a kind of twisted logic to them, and thereby some plausibility. The idea that there had been some kind of bust-up in the tunnel wasn’t completely ridiculous, although even then I detected plenty of wishful thinking in the more lurid rumours. But as the days wore on and the stories got more elaborate and hysterical, I knew there was nothing in them at all.
It doesn’t take two weeks for people to “give statements.” A fight doesn’t necessitate the club “calling in lawyers” and anyone suspected of such an offence wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country the same night as if nothing at all had happened, without talking to the police and a lawyer first.
None of that happened.
On top of that, charges don’t get filed in a dressing room, but in a police station. That means a formal arrest.
It means alerting the media.
The last time a high profile Scottish footballer got the jail I knew twenty-five minutes after he was booked. I’m not going to give any more details out than that, but I suspect the gentlemen of the press knew even quicker than I did.
There was no arrest here. There were no allegations levelled, or there would almost certainly have been an arrest. To instigate an arrest all the police needs are “reasonable grounds” to suspect you. A single witness statement is usually enough to spark one.
Now, in certain high profile celebrity cases an arrest isn’t immediate, but even a police inquiry of the sort some people were speculating on would have sparked fevered speculation.
Interviewing officers would know.
People in the general vicinity would have known.
Those interviewed would certainly have known.
Someone would have talked … and not just a “guy who knows a guy who knows a guy” … and not just to his mates either.
Anyone credible would not have limited their blabbermouth to a few “trusted friends”, so trusted that one of them couldn’t wait to tell the world.
There is no way it would have stayed quiet, no way that a story like this, if true, wouldn’t have attracted the hacks.
No way one of those hacks wouldn’t have found a good enough source to write the lot of it.
There is no court in the land that would compell the press on both sides of the border not to write about an ongoing police investigation like this … there is no “superinjunction” in place here, and you know that because if there was the difference in our legal system and the one in England would assure that the story would be running in their media already as it wouldn’t be enforceable south of the border. And a UK wide injunction would not stop the international press writing it.
The Colombian media would certainly know all abouit it and so would the internet as a result.
One of the reasons that superinjunctions are virtually unheard of up here is that Scotland is a small country.
There are no “secrets” here, not like this.
And yet, in spite of all this I heard, along with the rumours, calls from people that Celtic confirm some of this speculation.
That we “break our silence” on it.
Think on that for a moment; people were actually demanding that Celtic confirm a crazy internet rumour, and piling on the club because they hadn’t done so already. Bear in mind, this was something that the people making the demand weren’t even sure themselves had actually taken place.
I whip this club mercilessly for many things, but I will not criticise them for not confirming the existence of fairies.
There are things our board can’t be expected to do.
Yesterday, John Kennedy, an individual at the heart of many of these stories, confirmed what most sensible people knew already, that these tales were groundless. That there was nothing whatsoever in them. In a sense then, Celtic has now officially commented.
I am sorry it’s not the answer a lot of people hoped to hear, but all I can say is this; our club can only confirm facts. If there was a story, it wouldn’t be doing the rounds on internet forums. Something as big as what was being rumoured, the press would be all over it.
I think Celtic should speak out about a lot of different things. I think we should speak out more, and act aggressively, when our club is under attack. I think we should hammer back at the hacks who lie and spread disinformation. But there is a reason we don’t issue statements on internet tittle-tattle; if we did we’d never do anything else.
I mean isn’t it possible that the reason the club didn’t comment on an alleged assault on Ryan Christie is because there was no such incident? That maybe a lot of people were just reading too much into his injury, and the rumour mill is producing the rest?
There are real things going on at Celtic, Hampden and Ibrox. There are real things Celtic should be focussed on … Christie’s disciplinary was today, and even as the verdict is still sending shockwaves through the support and the club there is dead silence from Hampden on the issue some in the press wanted to discuss yesterday in relation to Resolution 12.
There’s also stony silence from Hampden over Morelos’ cut-throat gesture in front of our supporters, which is about as open and shut a discipline case as you’ll get.
On top of that, we do have the odd outbreak of sheer nonsense to contend with.
One organisation is demanding that we issue a “joint statement” with Sevco decrying sectarianism; we’ve not commented on that either and I sincerely hope we don’t. The idea is ludicrous and offensive. Celtic has always deplored sectarianism; why should we issue a statement to confirm that fact when everyone sentient and sane knows it already? Which is to say nothing for the grim irony of asking that we do so alongside a club whose fans are renowned for it, and who were sanctioned by UEFA with a partial ground closure just last year.
There’s also a transfer window to navigate, and its importance cannot be overstated.
There are real issues here, and the club has no time to waste on phantoms.
We have to focus, and all this stuff does is distract us from the real and the raw.
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