In the UK, football fans like nothing better than a bit of transfer gossip. We like it even more when it involves our team, and ideally when the clubs we support are linked with an exciting prospect. It’s almost as though the sports press have read our minds, because as soon as the January transfer window is ajar, we get bombarded with stories and speculation about all sorts of incredible moves. This speculation, or “horseshit” as I prefer to call it, is now getting out of hand.
In an effort to calculate just how much horseshit was being reported during the January transfer window, I took a look at the rather excellent Football Transfer League website. Each day the administrator of this website goes through the unenviable task of collecting all the latest transfer gossip from a series of 18, supposedly reputable sources, including major newspapers and football websites. Over the course of the transfer window, I kept a tally of these stories, and last night, as the clock struck midnight and the transfer window slammed firmly shut (for most of Europe anyway) I worked out how many of these stories had come true, and how many of them were simply lazy journalists linking Carlos Tevez with a move to QPR. The results of this experiment are present above.
For a bit of extra fun, I wanted to put the number of nonsense transfer rumors into a context that everyone could relate to. I decided that the simplest thing I could use to accurately represent the work of many sports journalists over the course of the January transfer window, was a massive pile of steaming horseshit. But how large should this pile be, what shape should it take, and where should I put it?
I multiplied the circulation rates of each newspaper by the number of incorrect stories they had published to represent the number of individual newspapers on sale containing transfer nonsense. For every newspaper on sale, I allocated it a lump of horseshit with a volume of 100cm³. I then decided to build a pyramid of horseshit in Trafalgar Square (120m x 120m area). The resultant pyramid of horseshit would be over 27m high, and the smell, hanging over the streets of London, because of the lies of sports journalists would have been strong enough to knock you on your arse.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport (actual transfers)
http://www.nmauk.co.uk (circulation rates)