Is Duncan Castles Complicit in the Tapping Up of Robin van Persie?

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Is Duncan Castles Complicit in the Tapping Up of Robin van Persie? Empty Is Duncan Castles Complicit in the Tapping Up of Robin van Persie?

Post by Christopher Flanagan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:46 am

After a somewhat bizarre exchange with Duncan Castles on Twitter, I wrote the following blog:

http://flannyflaps.blogspot.com/2012/03/furious-d.html

(can't copy paste the text at the moment as I am on my phone)

What are your thoughts? Do journalists owe the game a duty of care to uphold its rules?
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Post by Alejandro Perreira on Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:02 pm

Ideally they should, journalists aren't supposed to be biased in any manner, but of course we know that is often not the case. He should reports both the agreement and the illegality of it. I'm assuming however (I've never read any of his work) that he has a vested interest in not writing a story about the illegal contract. The answer is of course its his duty, but like journalists or politicians or whomever, personal interests outweigh those of the public.

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Post by Christopher Flanagan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:44 pm

I agree. I'm not blind to the practicalities of it; he needs to make his money. The whole thing just makes me a bit sick.
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Post by Christopher Flanagan on Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:47 pm

I should say that Duncan Castles read my blog, responded with some kind words about my writing and was dignified in the face of my badgering (but once again avoided the question).
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Post by Iboro Umana on Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:04 am

Great read Chris. For me, I find today's level of journalism a bit disgusting. What matters is being the first to write the story, even if it's clear you're being used as the mouthpiece for a club. And it's sad to read. A great journalist is one who can uncover facts and then analyze/place them in a proper, objective context. Sid Lowe is a classic example of this. I'm sure Duncan will argue the way you write a story can impact a source's willingness to divulge information in the future, but who cares? Journalism especially when it has to do with transfers should not be about favors. I find it annoying how reporters will go to great lengths of analysis to dispute why Arsenal won't be making a move for a certain player but then can't analyze the legality of a provisional agreement. Disgusting.
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Post by Sami Rockfeller on Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:32 am

Christopher Flanagan wrote:I should say that Duncan Castles read my blog, responded with some kind words about my writing and was dignified in the face of my badgering (but once again avoided the question).

That was nice of him, especially after all the bollocking you gave him on Twitter.
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Post by Michael Foster on Thu Mar 15, 2012 4:15 am

Who actually wrote that article?
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Post by Mario on Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:10 am

Michael, Chris wrote it. For those who can't read it on their phone or whatever, here it is:


Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Furious D

One of the great joys of Twitter is it gives you, the Little Man, the right to have your say. I have been involved is just such dialogue today; though, if anything, it has left me with more questions than I started with. The individual with whom I spoke was Duncan Castles, who - and this is a common theme with my interactions on Twitter - is a football journalist.

And, I should say before going on, a fine journalist, too. He has been responsible for breaking many fascinating stories, particularly involving Mourinho during his time at Chelsea. I do not doubt for a second that he is a very well-connected man. So when he published a recent article stating that Robin van Persie had agreed terms with Manchester City, I immediately voided my bowels into my knickers.

Now, I am not questioning the veracity of Castle's report because, frankly, I'm in no position to do so. Bouchra van Persie stated on Twitter that it was nonsense; Stan Collymore stated the same thing using the same medium. But they both have their respective motives; the former could be misleading us, the latter could be wrong, or at least have a source no closer to van Persie than Castles'. Who knows. Unless van Persie turns up at my house tonight with a copy of a contract in one pocket (and Tim Krul's ego in the other), I'm in a position whereby I'm subjecting myself to speculation either way. Some point to the fact that the article was published in Abu Dhabi's The National, with the obvious connections to Sheikh Mansour. Castles has been bought, they say. Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps Mansour has cast an envious eye in the direction of Marca's relationship with Madrid and he wants in on the action. Who cares.

But hang on, we've missed something here. How could van Persie have any sort of deal with Manchester City? He's contracted to Arsenal, right? And remains so until the summer of 2013. Therefore, any 'agreement' with Manchester City would be entirely improper. I put it to Castles that the story had to either a) be factually inaccurate; or b) contain a tacit acceptance that something illegal has occurred (well, something along those lines but with the word 'bollix' at the end). If Castles is convinced of the accuracy of his story – and I'll assume, for my faith in journalism, that he is – then he has reported on a considerable transgression of the rules without so much as a mention of the fact. How can this be? If Castles has become aware of a serious infringement of the rules of the game to which he owes his living, does he not owe that game an ethical duty to report it? Moreover, why isn't he saying anything about it at all? Why is he passing it off as unremarkable? It is most peculiar.

Graciously, Castles responded to me on Twitter, though he did so by direct message ('DM', for the uninitiated). Why he responded via DM and not via the usual 'respond' function, I have no idea. He certainly wasn't sending me anything anyone would consider a secret. So why the surreptitious message? I'm aware that I'm not the only fan on Twitter to whom he responded via DM, too. I suppose he is entitled to his idiosyncrasies. In my response, I included a screenshot of his DM. Is this poor netiquette? Rude even? Perhaps. I don't particularly consider that I owe anyone sending me generalised, public domain information a duty of care. This pissed Castles off; or at least, Castles stated that it was 'unethical' (though he seems to have conflated ethics and politeness in my ill-educated opinion). In retrospect, it was a mistake because it immediately gave Castles the opportunity to take a (fallacious) line of argument that because I had shared a DM with my seven and a half followers, that I was not in a position to 'lecture' on ethics. Epistemology fans will spot that this is a clear ad hominem. You did (something bad) therefore you're wrong. An egregious individual not to be trusted with secrets, indisputably. But wrong? No. At least, not on the basis of his responses.

Castles' last DM informed me that he 'could not answer that question [about whether he had a duty to report the tapping up he is otherwise complicit in] because you may out DM out [sic] into the public domain again'. Well yes, I would. Of course I would, because I think it's important to the game and the club I love that these actions aren't perpetuated by respected journalists. The real question is: Duncan, why won’t you put answer this into the public domain yourself?

I’m not saying Castles is wrong. I’m saying what he is doing is wrong. And what he’s doing is wrong whether he’s right or wrong. Right?

Perhaps our writer friend will be more forthcoming when others put the same question to him.

There are other aspects of this that I have not touched on that I find equally as perplexing: Castles' continual equivocation of the Nasri situation and the van Persie situation (Castles, to his credit, broke that Nasri would go to City a month or so before it happened but that doesn’t suddenly make the two scenarios the same); the fact that he re-tweeted an article, also from the National, about why van Persie & Arsenal's time together might be best ended, alongside a condescending and trite tweet about 'emotional' Arsenal fans, 'abusing' the writer (yes, we are emotional, of course we fucking are; that doesn't mean we are all devoid of critical faculties); Castles’ defence that the story also appeared in the Sunday Times, as if this negates that he was paid by the National for the piece... they are all worthy of question, I suppose, but I somehow doubt that Duncan Castles will be trusting me with his secrets in the near future.

Time will tell on this one, I guess. In the interim, let's just enjoy van Persie for the glorious specimen of humanity that he is and try to put the tap, tap, tapping up to the back of our collective minds because it's going nowhere.

Other titles considered for this blog: Castles Made of Sand; Duncan Disorderly; and Fnnnnaarrrr, STOP IT

Follow me on Twitter: @FlannyFlaps




Firstly, I'd like to say excellent work, Christopher. Secondly, I agree with Iboro and Alejandro. It shouldn't come as no surprise that journalists get into bed with certain people to further their career, it happens in all industries, but it doesn't mean that we as fans should just accept it when it's happening to our club when it could be an illegal approach.

Should he divulge the information? He 'should', if what is happening/happened is illegal (and by all means it would have to be) but t seems to me far too many people involved in media nowadays would rather have a safe job to fall back on rather than push the boat and do 'what's right'. They want to keep the gig. And this isn't necessarily a dig at Castles as, although I follow him on Twitter, I'm not that familiar with all his work. He seems ok.


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Post by Michael Foster on Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:26 am

Ahh right...so what's the Alan Davies part about at the top of the article?
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Post by Jonathan Prendergast on Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:52 am

Hi Chris,

Are you saying Duncan Castles is complicit because he knows of an illegal contract and tapping up? Or are you saying that stories like this are an indirect way of tapping up, and he is complicit in tapping up by writing this story and unsettling the player?

Not sure of the rules in England, but in Australia, journalists are able to protect the identity of their sources. So therefore, journalist can write of claimed illiegal activity, without disclosing who they get the information from. This rule is in place so journalists can conduct investigative reporting and also facilitate whistle blowing. Much like Wikileaks.

You may say that this is not what you are talking about. But I think, in this context, it is an example of journalists reporting illegal activity. And in none of these cases, is the journalist considered 'complicit' with the illegal activity.

From another perspective, Duncan Castles is actually claiming that Man City have been involved in illegal tapping up. You would think that Man City would be unhappy with this claim. However, in the football world, it is common that stories are factually incorrect and based on nothing. So Man City can easily brush aside this claim.

Moreover, it is actually in Man City's benefit that such a story is published, as it unsettles the player (RVP). It is an indirect message way of sending a message to RVP that the club is willing to pay such a huge salary.

The more this indirect style of tapping up is let go with no punishment, the more it will happen. This should not be accepted.

Arsenal should report Man City, as indirectly the journalist is a Man City employee, and is part of this indirect tapping up. It is probably a very tough case to win though.

Luckily, I think RVP is a principled man, and would never be swayed by such tactics.
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