Yesterday morning, I referenced an eyebrow-raising piece published on Sky Sports News’ website which went into astounding detail about Crystal Palace’s transfer plans. At the time I suggested that they either had a superb inside source or were lying through their teeth; now, the article in question has vanished.
After hearing next to nothing about the Eagles’ January targets from usually reliable sources since the deal to sign Dominic Solanke fell through, it came as a huge surprise to see Palace linked with the likes of Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Ebere Eze out of the blue, particularly when you consider that money is thought to be tight transfer-wise at Palace this winter. I wrote a piece expressing my scepticism and thought nothing more of it, until when, later that day I decided to revisit Sky Sports News to check something and discovered that the article in question had been removed from their site altogether.
That @SkySports article from earlier now leads here.
Looks like they were lying through their teeth after all… pic.twitter.com/M6ZctJDY6v
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) January 9, 2019
Without wishing to speculate too wildly, there seems to be a pretty solid argument to suggest that Sky Sports were caught telling fibs for traffic and thought better of leaving the evidence up for all to see, just in case of repercussions in the days and weeks to come. Had they just thrown together a list of names and pretended we held an interest for the sake of a few thousand clicks? It seems highly feasible to me as an outsider looking in.
This sort of approach is nothing new; Sky Sports’ association with SkyBet (who offer markets on potential transfers across Europe) has often been highlighted as a source of intrigue and in this particular instance, it simply seems as though the site have been caught red handed and sought to minimise the damage before anything gets too far out of hand.
Whilst I’m fully aware of the need to drive traffic towards a site in a bid to make it profitable from a business perspective, incidents like this do nothing other than chip away at the faith current and future readers have in what they’re seeing each and every time they click on the links Sky Sports provide. In the short-term it may not feel like a disaster but over the course of a few years, things like this alter the perception of the channel from one which can be seen as a trusted news source to one which indulges in the same sort of rumour-spinning as any run-of-the-mill tabloid.
It’s a real shame.