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On writing about transfers

Transfers are the worst thing to cover so here’s to my feelings being solidified on that matter

Aston Villa v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Yesterday signified the arrival of one of the two most stressful days on the footballing calendar. The second of two transfer deadline days.

I just wanted to dive into what actually happens on this blog on deadline day.

What happens? Well - we write about Villa transfers that happen on deadline day - but we all do it around our day jobs.

For me, and many others; the day started at 7:30am to follow the Tyrone Mings story, then it started again at 9am when my day job started, then again at 5:30pm when I dedicated my night to covering transfer stories.

Funnily enough, not all Aston Villa fans are connected to Twitter - nor are they able to access podcasts and visual content. For a lot, the written form still wins out. That’s why it’s important for us to write as much stuff as we can on transfer deadline day. Simply so people who read don’t get swept up and lost in the deluge of awfulness that shows itself on these days. Rather ironic when you consider what happened with Leroy Fer, but you win some and you lose some.

Sometimes, to save your hands and your mind (sometimes a lot more than you think goes into the most basic of articles) you pre-write bits and pieces. Not necessarily so you can get stories out faster,

There were two transfer deals I was notified of as a ‘thing’ - one was the move for Frederic Guilbert, which eventually came about, and other was for a transfer deal for Leroy Fer, which didn’t.

It’s not just that we were notified, but that the deal had been widely reported by many a trusted journalist as a ‘done deal’ - every single Villa transfer that happened had been followed and reported as done before the club had announced it.

This is often the case, there have been plenty of transfer deals that were officially announced days and hours after we had heard that they had happened. Scott Sinclair is one, the Fabian Delph contract is another. This stuff happens.

So - we constructed the frame of the Leroy Fer article hours before the fact - making slight amendments as news was reported about the deal. When it was reported widely that the Fer deal was done - we joined in and posted. That was the process for the day.

And Fer didn’t end up joining Aston Villa. So now there is a full day of writing with one outlier. The article that was said to be a done deal now isn’t a done deal and now it isn’t happening at all. Great.

Here’s the thing: we try to bring you what we can and when we can on the most basic of platforms. Our site is full of adverts, but it’s largely readable - more so then others. Our site sometimes uses vaguer headlines, but there’s no clickbait - you’re not being intentionally duped. It’d be easier for us to convert fully to Twitter, bin the research, bin the writing, bin the editing and be able to follow the news in-between episodes of Line of Duty to report all the ‘news’ as it happened. It’d have been even easier to just to go full online and take wild guesses, make things up, bend headlines to the limit and rake in a stratospheric amount of views onto the site. Our stories are straight (mostly) and we do (try to) take the news stuff seriously. Why? Just because. We don’t want your likes on twitter, or your retweets - and frankly - those things scare me. Those things signify that the word is spreading out to a wider, more toxic audience - and don’t be surprised if we bite back if you say idiotic things.

The toxicity of a fanbase is a surprisingly powerful thing. And recently I have to admit it has been making it harder and harder to write about Aston Villa. You can’t like a particular player anymore. You can’t write certain pieces without thinking about the consequences. I’m not sure how we got here, but all I know is this - the blog worked around the clock yesterday to try and put out a full and truthful version of events which is what happens every year.

It’s getting more difficult to do that and man, I cannot wait to write about the things I love.