Look, no one is going to die as a result of a false transfer rumour. And anyone who’s been following the Internet football news machine knows there are some sites you go to for legit news, and others you go to to laugh at total and utter alley trash.

But when a headline screams something that is not only false, but completely fabricated, it doesn’t do anyone any good. There are enough talented, underemployed bloggers and writers out there (no, I don’t mean me, trolls) who could have used the column space for insight, rather than to perpetuate a half-baked “rumour.”

The website Sport Witness recently investigated the source of a recent story on Barcelona’s supposed interest in Newcastle goal-keeper Tim Krul. The rumour appeared on both the Mirror and the Daily Mail, hardly stalwarts of journalistic excellence mind you, but two widely-circulated newspapers nonetheless. What they discovered is a trail of bullshit as long as a tapeworm, and about as appetizing:

Caught Offside have today reported that Barcelona want Newcastle’s Krul as a replacement for the departing Pinto, whose contract will not be renewed at the end of the season. They link TMW as where they got their story from, the full piece on the Italian website is:

According to Spanish media Barcelona would be looking for a goalkeeper to ensure adequate coverage in the event that Victor Valdes should not be available in the future.The name on the notebooks leaders Barca would be to Tim Krul, the Newcastle goalkeeper.

TMW is a website which collates transfer gossip, unfortunately they don’t often give a concrete source, and in this case it meant we had to go to Spain (not literally, unfortunately) and see what we could find.

AS, a major Spanish newspaper, are reporting it on their website today as are Fichajes, a Spanish transfer rumour website. However, both of these simply they are reporting the rumours previously carried by the two sentence article in Italy. This is Spanish media reporting Italian media reporting Spanish media, keeping up?

All this eventually gets traced back to a little known Spanish website that simply prints rumours with no verifiable source. It’s all hilarious in its way, but it’s not really healthy. While journalists tend to harp on citing sources for selfish reasons (“But I wrote that!”), proper citation also allows readers to make their own judgment on the truth of a particular story. If a newspaper says, “They’ve learned” some rumour or another, from whom or what did they learn it?

It used to be the case a paper could simply preface any rumour with “According to reports in X newspaper,” because newspapers generally followed basic journalistic principles involving sources and story verification. As that is clearly no longer the case, this is no longer good enough. If a website can take the time to trace bullshit all the way home, surely the Daily Mail can? And while they’re at it, why not find some actual, reliable sources within various clubs in Europe? Seeing as you have a significant budget in comparison with some bullshit Spanish website?