Sports news, commentary and scores with wit and added value. We compare and contrast the best and worst sports reporting in the mainstream press, blogs, TV and online. We love the English Premier League (Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United and Manchester City) and all things football but we cover cricket, rugby, the Olympics, tennis, golf, F1 and highlights of the sporting year.
They took their sweet bloomin’ time about it, but Anthony Martial is now officially a Manchester United player after passing his medical at Carrington earlier this morning.
United have now sealed the deal by trotting out the photos of the 19-year-old French striker holding his new No.9 shirt aloft…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 1, 2015
Martial – a “naturally talented, young, multi-functional
pen knife forward” according to Louis van Gaal – has signed a four-year contract, with the option for a further year tacked on the end.
Real Madrid did everything they could to sign Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea. They did everything aside from paying the fee Man United wanted and filing their papers on time.
United says they completed all of their paperwork in time. They are brandishing Fifa’s International Transfer Matching System (TMS) to prove it.
But Real say the 24-year-old’s £29m deal (it included the move to £11m-rated Keylor Navas to Old Trafford) fell through because United took eight hours to reply to contracts. Real say Man United dithered, sending back the agreement with “small modifications”:
“Due to not being relevant, all the modifications were accepted immediately by Real Madrid with the intention of being able to register the player on time in the TMS and with the LFP.”
Real have released a statement
- United only opened negotiations over De Gea on Monday
- The clubs reached a rapid agreement on the transfer of De Gea and Navas
- Real submitted contracts at 13:39 Spanish time, with United sending minor modifications back at 21:43
- United entered De Gea’s details, but not Navas’s into Fifa’s Transfer Matching System (TMS) at exactly midnight
- Real received the full documentation at 00:02, by which time the TMS had closed
Manchester United say:
- United sent De Gea documents but Real could not download them because of IT issues
- Real did not send De Gea registration documents to the Spanish league on time
The upshot is that with weeks to get the deal done, nothing happened. Unless, Man United finally sold Real that “virus”…
Transfer Balls: Arsenal defy Metro newshound Kike Marin and refuse to buy Martinez, Lewandowki, Aubameyang and Cavani
In the world of TransferBalls, the Metro – now feeder paper to the dire Daily Telegraph – is like that Lotto machine, tossing up all manner balls and spitting out hope with only a one in a billion chance of hitting a winner.
Today the paper links Arsenal to PSG’s Edison Cavani. The headline is all”
Top journalist says Arsenal hope to completing transfer of megastar before deadline
Who? And Who?
The star is, as we’ve noted, Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani. the top journo is… Kike Marin. He’s a Spanish journalist, who has the inside track on a South American footballer playing in France linked to an English club. Journalist in all three of those nations must look to Kike with envy.
This is what he tweeted about Cavani:
‘Wenger tried to sign Cavani the last summer. Perhaps he can sign him now? Hopefully!!’
Perhaps. Hopefully. And to the Metro that is news.
In earlier Metro news:
Jackson never came. Arsenal never bid for him.
Lewandowski never came. Arsenal never bid for him,
Aubameyman has never attracted a bid from Arsenal.
In fairness, Kike Marin just says what he thinks and what he knows. The Metro then turns it into fact.
David De Gea will 100% remain a Manchester United player beyond transfer deadline day. Fact.
Not our words. The words of the official UEFA Champions League Twitter account…
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 1, 2015
Christ almighty, even inanimate trophies are #ITK these days.
(And airports. Heathrow Airport have been tweeting Arsenal:
Can you be trolled by an airport?)
The Cup is right says Sky Sports, which adds:
“David de Gea looks to be staying at Manchester United after Real Madrid decided not to appeal to La Liga following the collapse of his move to the Bernabeu.”
Looks like it’s a season in the stiffs for Dave (well, until the January window opens, at least).
There are now 29 Chelsea players playing for other clubs. For now.
The Guardian are reporting that before Moses finalised his West Ham loan he went and signed a new FOUR-YEAR contract at parent club Chelsea in order to “preserve his value”.
Chelsea are gaming the system.
The 29 Chelsea players not at Stamford Bridge are:
Mohamed Salah (Roma), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Marko Marin (Trabzonspor), Marko van Ginkel (Stoke), Patrick Bamford (Crystal Palace), Nathaniel Chalobah (Napoli) Lucas Piazon (Reading), Jordan Houghton (Gillingham), Christian Atsu (Bournemouth), Wallace (Carpi), Danilo Pantic, Nathan, Dominic Solanke, Lewis Baker, Isaiah Brown (all Vitesse Arnhem), Nathan Ake (Watford), Mario Pasalic (Monaco), Alex Davey (Peterborough), Jeremie Boga (Rennes), Todd Kane (NEC), Tomas Kalas (Middlesbrough), Ulises Davila (Vitoria Setubal), Cristian Cueves and Victorien Angban (both Sint Truiden), Andreas Christensen (Borussia Mochengladbach), Cristian Manea (Mouscron), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa), Matej Delac (FK Sarajevo) and Victor Moses (West Ham).
It’s the final day of the transfer season. And on Sky Sports they’re calling it Deadline Day Eve.
FFS! Sky Sports repeatedly calling today Deadline Day EVE! So on Deadline Boxing Day can clubs return all the players that don’t quite fit?
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) August 31, 2015
Merry Christmas, readers!
Newcastle United have banned The Magpie Brand from selling its black and white tops. The shirts are a popular alternative to the sell-out Wonga-embossed official kit.
Newcastle’s lawyers threatend The Magpie Brand. Stop selling the shirts or else.
The Magpie Brand realised “there was the possibility of an expensive legal battle which may or may not go our way [and], as a small group of fans with families, mortgages and children, we had no option but to cave in to the bullying tactics employed against us. We simply did not have the money to defend our position.”
More great PR from classy Newcastle.
Transfer Balls: According to the Metro, Paris St Germain have accepted Arsenal’s £45m for Edinson Cavani.
George Bellshaw declares:
Paris St Germain have accepted a £45million transfer offer from Arsenal for Edinson Cavani…
The Uruguayan now becomes Arsenal’s most expensive player. But hold on. After three declarations that the deal has been done the Metro notes:
The Parisian giants have accepted a £43m bid up front with £2m in add-ons, according to the Daily Star.
Over there Leeroy Jenkins confirms the news:
Reading on, Leeroy shares his source:
And according to Twitter account GestiFuteFifa... Wenger has flown out to Paris to finalise a deal for the Uruguayan striker.
That account grabbed two photos from someone’s else’s account and told its twitter followers:
Who is this source who claims to be based at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, London, and represent agent Jorge Mendes’s Gestifute? On that company’s website, we learn:
We represent several of the world’s top coaches and footballers, providing them with a meticulous, thorough and professional service.
You represent them by tweeting speculation?
Mendes is not what you call humble. You can read the story of his life in Jorge Mendes, Special Agent.
This is Mendes (second from the right) holding a small trophy he won for being a good agent:
And he communicates transfer rumours via twitter. Well, so says say the Star and the Metro.
Such are the facts.
Manchester United had all summer to work on their project. But David De Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid is off because the United board didn’t hand in their work on time.
The BBC says United are responsible for the deal collapsing.
The line is that they did not get their paperwork to Spanish Football Federation headquarters until a minute after the 23:00 BST deadline. In their defence, United say they have a receipt that proves they submitted the relevant documents in time.
Real Madrid are likely to appeal to push the transfer through.
United had stood to receive £18.3 million in cash for De Gea, plus Keylor Navas, the Costa Rica No 1, valued at £10.9 million.
The Times says FIFA will look at the deal today:
The deal — if it went through — would represent a climbdown for United given that they insisted all summer that De Gea would only leave in a straight cash deal worth in excess of the £32.6 million world-record fee that Juventus paid Parma for Gianluigi Buffon in 2001, or as part of a package that brought Sergio Ramos to Old Trafford.
Louis van Gaal, the United manager, had resolved not to select De Gea while the transfer window remained open after claiming that the Spaniard had said he was “not eager to play” against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the season. It was a claim fiercely disputed by De Gea.
Spanish newspaper Marca sums it up best:
All those vows that David Dea Gea would be made to honour the final year of his Manchester United contract unless Real Madrid made a world-record offer have been proven wrong. The Spanish goalkeeper has left Old Trafford for Real Madrid.
Real have agreed to pay €25 million (just over £18m) for De Gea – and they’ve thrown in Keylor Navas, the Costa Rica goalkeeper, who is valued at €15 million (about £11.m).
Man United had wanted £35m in cash for their best player – the gangly youth who arrived at Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid for £18.3 million and endured a fraught first season.
The Press waded in on De Gea. Sir Alex Ferguson called them “idiots” for doubting the young man’s talent. Has Fergie made an error in liking the player who had in 2010 attracted a bid from Wigan Atheltic?
In 2013, De Gea told us:
I don’t think people appreciate just how hard it was for me coming to a new country at that age and a different type of football. I knew I had to become bigger physically. You can see now I look different to when I first came here. I have much more muscle. In training the players would deliberately hit high balls into me and barge into me so I would get used to that side of the English game. I actually enjoy the physical side of it all now.
De Gea blossomed at United. That he’s left so soon will surely hurt the club.
Transfer Balls: a look at the player Arsenal FC bought over the summer trasfer window (and where they really ended up):
Arsenal Buy Arturo Vidal
June 28th 2015, Chile midfielder Vidal joins the Gunners, reports the trusty Daily Telegraph.
July 28: Vidal signs for Bayern Munich.
Arsenal Sign Serge Aurie
The Daily Express says so.
Fact: Aurie joins PSG.
Arsenal Buy Karim Benzema
ITV has the scoop on August 3.
On Augut 7, the Daily Telegraph said the deal was done. Benzema was on his way.
On August 17, the Daily Star said Benzema to Arsenal had not been agreed but it would be a done deal very soon.
On August 19, it was done.
On Augsut 23, the deal was done…again. The Metro said Benzema would be presented to Arsenal fans.
Fact: Benzema stayed at Real Madrid, referring to the media who said he was moving as “clowns”.
The Western Morning News had the facts. The Southampton player was a Gunner.
Morgan Schneiderlin joined Manchester United. Arsenal never bid for him.
On August 23, the Star said Cavani was flying to London for his Arsenal medical.
He’s not arrived yet.
Manchester United have signed Anthony Martial from Monaco for £36m. The 19-year-old scored eight goals in 31 Ligue 1 appearances last season.
Just before that move, the BBC reported:
Best of luck to Man United’s third most expensive signing in their history Antony M.A…
Are Premier League referees out of their depth? Why can’t they have video evidence for big decisions? What does the
linesman referee’s assistant do?
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 29, 2015
David De Gea desire to lave Manchester United for a new life and glory at Real Madrid has been well documented. Loved and admired at Old Trafford, De Gea’s refusal to accept a new deal and presence in the stands during game he might other have been playing shows makes Alyson Rudd wonder at the impact his transfer has on the psychology of his team.
The answer is that it drives coaches to be spiteful, players to mistrust team-mates and chief executives to panic. The transfer window is a wrecking ball that destroys morale and makes a mockery of the marginal gains that clubs seek for success.
On the way up, the transfer window is all about greed and the Premier League arms race. And what about players being sent down the divisions or who see their path to the first team blocked by a superstar name?
So to De Ge a- why is his mind not ready for the challenge, whatever it is?
“De Gea is a professional athlete and if I was working with him I would be preparing him to perform,” David Fletcher, director of sports psychology at Loughborough University, says. “He has to be a professional. My message would be for him to focus appropriately. Part of the mental preparation for a game is to block out distractions.”
De Gea is losing out. The old saying that says form is temporary but class is permanent contains a nugget of truth, but ask any top sportsman what make them a winner and they will tell you: practice and playing your best at all times.
“It is critical that athletes in a team believe they are pulling in the same direction… We as psychologists talk about emotional contagion. Nerves before a game will spread just as confidence will spread. Players not committed to the team will spread that emotion so that others doubt their commitment to the club…
“Some managers hate not being 100 per cent in control and they can become quite spiteful. They might drop the player or play him out of position. If a lower-league player has the chance of a big-money move, the chairman will be furious that his asset is not being shown off properly, but many managers don’t care or don’t even realise how cruel they are being. They just hate not being in control.”
Surely the manager has to be in control. A compelling narrative, the striving to move forward, depends on individuals. How the manger handles the wantaway player says much about the club and their nous.
Can Arsenal compete with the very best? In the Times, Gunners manager Arsène Wenger says that Uefa’s decision to relax its Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules means Arsenal cannot compete with the super-rich.
“What’s happened is the clubs threatened to go to civil court. That brought a lot of insecurity in the decision-making of Uefa, so they started to soften the rules a little bit… We continue to run our business with the resources we create, but they can put a hundred or two hundred on top.”
Chelsea, City and Manchester United, Arsenal’s closest rivals, have each spent in excess of £45 million during the summer. City and Chelsea have no need to balance the books. Arsenal have spent £10m.
Over to Gary Neville, who uses his Daily Telegraph column to attack Arsenal – earlier in the week he branded Wenger “arrogant“. From a TV studio in west London and his home office Neville is jostling for exposure with Premier League managers.
If this is my Alan Hansen moment (“you can’t win anything with kids”) then nobody will be more pleased than me. I would be delighted to see Arsenal disprove my criticisms of their playing style by winning the Premier League.
So says Manchester United fan Gary Neville. Do we believe that no-one will be more pleased than him to see Arsenal win the league? That question to you, Thierry Henry?
The Arsene Wenger teams of the last 10 years meanwhile have lacked the dominant personalities, strength and purpose of his earlier creations. You see the importance of these qualities at points in the season when you’re not playing well and need to win by a set-piece; the winter months when the Champions League bites and you find yourself with two or three injuries.
We cannot be blind to the hard facts of football over 30 or 40 years. Pure football has never prevailed, though I would be delighted to see it happen for Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez, Giroud and Coquelin, who together can summon a great deal of technical ability but not much pace, power, height or strength. Giroud cannot challenge the space behind defenders. Coquelin is the only one amongst those who has any true defensive intelligence.
And then Neville, having made salient points (albeit ones made before), gets personal:
The definition of insanity, they say, is making the same mistake over and over again. My point was that the one black mark over Arsene Wenger is the change in the profile of players he has signed. I used the phrase “arrogant or naïve” – and the headlines that followed were all about arrogance. I was in no way trying to be disrespectful. It was more a statement of fact.
Not trying to be disrespectful – but succeeding, nonetheless.
If you refuse to change your ways – and those ways don’t take you to the top – naivety certainly comes into play.
Arrogant. Insane, Naive. The headlines write themselves.
Working on the murderous spurned lover’s premise that if you can’t have the one you love, then no-one will, the Sun says Everton fans are out to harm John Stones. The Sun says angry fans have forced Stones to “flee” his home.
Like you, we are a bit doubtful. After all, it’s best not to rely on the Sun for news of Liverpool football clubs.
But today the paper says it has “proof” Stones has moved into a hotel for security.
JOHN STONES sneaks out of a hotel hideaway yesterday — after fleeing his home over safety fears. SunSport’s exclusive pictures reveal the Everton star, 21, was seeking shelter having been terrorised by his own fans.
How thoughtful of the Sun to show the Toffee Terrorists where Stones is now living. The loons can now book a room on the same corridor and get that much closer to their target.
Everton have, of course, rejected Chelsea’s bids for their player. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright says Stones is not for sale and “will remain a highly valued member of our first-team squad”.
But the Toffee Terrorists are not listening, says the Sun, which seeks to further prove that Stones is in hiding:
The club admitted they are beefing up security around their player after they turned down a transfer request from Stones plus FOUR bids from Chelsea.
They did. Everton manager Roberto Martinez said after Stones was berated by a few irate Everton fans following Wednesday’s Capital One Cup win at Barnsley:
“We will keep an eye security-wise as a football club and every club in this position would do that. During the transfer window we have to be more aware because we are exposing our players to emotions that are normal in this situation. John is in the middle of that storm. Well, he was.”
But the Sun twists the words, presenting them as if Martinez was responding not to a few fans mouthing off, but to its news of terroristic attack on Stones’ home:
“In this case with John we know where we are, you’re not going to have an issue as per yesterday. That issue is gone with John but security is something we need to be aware of in future windows.”
That ‘yesterday’ is a reference to the aforesaid Capital One Cup match where a fan called Stones a “f***ing rat”. It’s not about Stones “fleeing” his home.
Such are the facst.
Transfer News: Everton fans drive John Stones out, Chelsea want Linpeng, Arsenal meet Higuain asking price
It was obvious, really. The way to keep John Stones from leaving Everton is for the club’s fans to make him “flee” his Widnes home and hide out in a hotel. Well, so says the Sun– and who in Liverpool can doubt the veracity of that paper’s reporting on the Merseyside teams?
No news on how fans of Wolfsburg have taken the news that Kevin de Bruyne will head to Manchester City for a weekly retainer of £200,000, says the Telegraph , or £300,000 a week if you believe the Daily Mirror.
Liverpool’s Serbian winger Lazar Markovic, 21, a £20m signing from Benfica just last summer, has left Anfield to join Fenerbahce on a season-long loan in the tax-free Turkish leagues, says the Daily Mail.
Another on his way to Turkey – maybe – is Chelsea and Nigeria midfielder John Mikel Obi, 28. Besiktas are keen on the uninspiring midfielder, says the Daily Mirror.
The Guardian says Norwich have offered £1.5m for Stoke City’s never-say-die Jonathan Walters. Stoke says that offer is laughably low.
The Times relays news from Chinese media that Chelsea are after Zhang Linpeng, who plays for (it says here) Guangzhou Evergrande.
Also in the Times news that West Ham United still want Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor. The 31-year-old former Arsenal and Manchester City striker turned down the chance to reunite with Tim Sherwood at Aston Villa because he wanted to stay in London. Adebayor is in the last year is a contract worth £100,000-a-week. West Ham think he’s worth it.
According to the Daily Express, Arsenal will offer £59m for Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain. The Italian will reject that vast sum and only sell in January for reasons that are as clear as mud.
Tottenham’s move for West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino will come to nothing. Albion chariman Jeremy Peace is unimpressed with Spurs’ recent bid of £22 million (made in “stage payments and add-ons”). He wants £25m in a single hit.
“As I have made clear from the moment Tottenham lodged their first bid for Saido on August 18, selling our top goalscorer was never on our agenda this summer. Not only have the offers been too low as a valuation of the player, but they have been based on stage payments and add-ons over a long period, which do nothing to reflect Saido’s ability and potential.
“I have the greatest respect for Daniel Levy but he must surely appreciate we would have needed to replace Saido had he left and no consideration of that position has been reflected by Tottenham’s strategy.”
Will he keep his word? It looks like it. Peace has told Berahino that’s he’s staying.
But Harry Redknapp (who he?), says it’s all bluff – and he should know.
“It’s only a game of poker at the moment between (Tottenham chairman) Daniel Levy and Jeremy Peace,” Redknapp said. “Jeremy Peace holds all the aces in that situation because Tottenham are desperate for a striker – he’s the one they’ve identified, so I think the deal will happen before the deadline. Everything’s probably all done with the player behind the scenes. He probably has a good idea about where he’s going to live, even.”
As for the player, well, he’s “cut his ties with West Brom – on social media”, says Sky Sports. Saido has unfollowed West Brom on twitter – which might be most pathetic thing we’ve hear all year.
Arsenal are chasing Paris St Germain striker Edinson Cavani, says the Metro. The Uruguayan is “Arsenal’s number one transfer target”. This is because the move for Karim Benzema is “dead“.
We know this because Tim Vickery told Talksport that it’s “believed“ that Arsenal are interested in the player:
‘The angle the Uruguayan press are going with is that now with Benzema now not going to happen, Arsenal have set their sights on Cavani.”
So trusted is Vickery that the Daily Star hears his paper review and thunders:
“Arsenal are 100% chasing Manchester United target Edinson Cavani”
The Independent says no less a man that Arsene Wenger has “fuelled” the Cavani rumours”:
“I am always confident that a last-minute situation or solution is available, because the transfer market is especially moving in the last four or five days,” said Wenger.
“But at the moment I cannot promise you that. We work very hard, you know I have a team around me who work day and night to find good solutions but at the moment we are not close to signing anyone.”
Mention of Cavani: nil.
Amid so much guesswork and having stated that Benzema is winning a race with Simon Cowell’s forehead to see which can move the least, the Metro then says:
“Arsenal have held talks with Karim Benzema’s agent over a move to the club… Arsenal [are] still seemingly hopeful of signing the striker before the window shuts on Tuesday.”
Such are the facts.
The Sun says Everton star John Stones “has been forced to flee home — after being terrorised by furious Everton fans.”
The Toffees turned down Chelsea’s latest £37million offer for the defender and insisted they will not sell the England star.
But Stones asked to leave the club.
Yet Stones, 21, was targeted by Everton supporters at his home in Widnes, Cheshire, and is now living in a hotel to avoid the problems.
That sounds like balls.
More to follow…
Kevin De Bruyne will become a Manchester City player tomorrow, says the Times.
The paper says City have agreed to invest £56 million in Wolfsburg’s Belgium midfielder. Patrick De Koster, De Bruyne’s agent, says that to the best of his knowledge his client has not agreed a five-year contract, worth nearly £230,000 a week.
The Guardian tells him that the deal has been struck at £54m.
Daily Mirror has seen it. But it says the Times is wrong – De Bruyne will earn – get this – £300,000 a week to kiss the Man City badge. Hell, for that money the former Chelsea man will even move to Manchester.
John Stones wants to leave Everton. Chelsea have been tapping on the player’s door all summer, keen to spend all that filthy lucre on the great English hope. Everton are not a big brand. They cannot offer Stones Champions’ League football and massive wages. Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea can.
But Everton can offer Stones a home where he can make mistakes and learn his trade. They can offer him loyal fans who do not turn up only to see their side win, and a young talented manager who wants to keep him.
Stones should stay at Goodison Park, writes Tony Barrett.
The theory throughout an increasingly tortuous transfer saga has been that there would be an offer that would make Everton buckle, but by adopting such a strong position through their manager, the club have given themselves the best possibly chance of keeping Stones.
Should they do so, they will send a message to clubs in a similar position that they do not have to yield to the league’s biggest fish; that even when a player has formally expressed his desire to go, they can ensure that he sticks to the contract he signed and prevent a scenario in which a club as powerful as Chelsea make themselves even stronger at your expense.
Usain Bolt had claimed his second gold of the World Championships in Beijing by winning the 200 metres, when a cameraman on wheels took him out.
The World Athletics Championships needed a stand-out moment and, perhaps, this was it?
* High time all journalists, TV crew, mascots and assorted stewards were tested for performance enhancing and impairing drugs.
Transfer Balls salutes the work of the Daily Mail which today reports that Chelsea have tabled a £54million bid for Paul Pogba. Juventus saw the bid and rejected it.
The paper than adds that Chelsea won’t get Pogba anyhow.
Barcelona held formal talks in June with Juventus over Pogba and believe they have an option for signing the 22-year-old next summer with the valuation set at around £73million.
So how can Chelsea have hoped to by the former Manchester United player for less then the £73m Barcelona had set aside?
And earlier the Mail said that Barcelona had seen a bid or £57m rejected – still more than chela’s bid.
And what of the part about Manchester City giving up on Pogba? That’s odd because the Mail told us the Citizens had £70m earmarked for the Frenchman.
Such are the facts in the Daily Mail.
Today is 26th August, 2015 – the date that will echo throughout history as the day Sir Alex Ferguson joined the LinkedIn.
For those blissfully unaware, LinkedIn is a social networking site aimed at professionals. It is also responsible for generating almost 70% of the internet’s entire quota of unsolicited emails, but that’s really by-the-by. It is utterly useless.
Anyway, Sir Alex has created an account, billing himself as a “Director, Ambassador, Visiting Fellow and Author”. Yeah, we fibbed about the ‘dreamweaver’ bit. Apologies where due.
It should be visible here if you happen to be a LinkedIn member.
The 73-year-old former Manchester United manager has joined LinkedIn to coincide with the release of his latest book, ‘Leading’, in which he details the various managerial techniques he used to transform United into the global success they are today – screaming indecipherably in people’s faces, lacerating people’s eyebrows with flying Adidas Predators, that kind of thing.
Sadly, users will only be able to contact Sir Alex if they know him personally, thus depriving fans of rivals teams the opportunity to engage in direct slanging.
Damn shame. There could have been some decent mileage in that.