Ian Herbert: Transfer talk getting you down? Then it's time to go for a long ramble online

The Way I See It: Bloggers and websites deliver original, hard facts and they are not simply a platformfor elegant writing

There's some self-deprecation in the title of the erudite football blog, Swiss Ramble. The writer behind it, Kieron O'Connor, has said it's an appropriate name because he presents his thoughts "in a rambling fashion". He also happened to be on a long walk, listening to the Football Ramble podcast, when the idea of writing it came to him.

This modesty is unnecessary. The blog, typed from O'Connor's base in Switzerland, has become an essential part of the landscape of football journalism for tens of thousands of people and its precision and articulacy won O'Connor the best blog award at the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) annual media awards, on Saturday night.

O'Connor, who discovered there was interest in what he wrote when he posted a piece on whether Everton were a good investment on a fans' forum and found 8,000 people had viewed it, has drawn on his background as an LSE-educated economist to unravel football finance, but there is more than the dissection of balance sheers to it. There have been few better extrapolations of the nuts and bolts of a transfer than the Swiss Ramble blog about Zlatan Ibrahimovic's transfer from Barcelona to Milan. A recent examination of Liverpool's future strategy and why Wigan Athletic's survival was particularly improbable were both equally fine.

O'Connor isn't alone. Not all of consequences of the democratisation of football writing delivered by the internet are positive – more on that shortly – but O'Connor belongs to a new school of blogs and sites, including Andy Green's Andersred blog (strong on Manchester United, though much more besides), the Zonal Marking tactics website, which was voted website of the year by the FSF, and the most authoritative guide to Liverpool FC on the internet – Paul Tomkins' Tomkins Times. The Sporting Intelligence site won the former Independent journalist Nick Harris the Sports Journalist Association internet writer of the year award in March.

Conspicuous by its absence on all of these sites is that running commentary on the twists and turns of transfer stories or the latest players' quotes, which have both flavoured our summer. This is no-one's journalistic cop-out: all of the websites mentioned deliver original, hard, previously unpublished facts and are not simply a platform for elegant writing. The question, ahead of another week which will be dominated by the will-they, won't-they sagas of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Wesley Sneijder, Sergio Aguero and perhaps Carlos Tevez, is whether you'd all prefer a Ramble than to know the incremental shift in a transfer story.

It's cripplingly difficult to ascertain an answer to that question because to countless fans it doesn't seem to matter whether the latest shift is true, significant or neither. The BBC's daily morning website transfer story round-up, which once listed the stories of national newspapers and their websites, now breathlessly chronicles the hunches of every website going. My mates tell me they just don't read these stories until a deal is nearly done – but what's the first thing they ask me when I see them? The green Ubersocial Twitter light usually signals a message when I stagger towards the Blackberry at 7am. It'll be a follower asking about the balance of probability that a player will sign, not the shape of the balance sheet.

A story of one surreal day, last week, captured the priorities in this rather wild summer of football news. I had reported on a club worth £250,000 – Stockport County – being taken over by a 27-year-old businessman who won't name his backers and insists the fact that his last business went into administration is inconsequential, and a player who earns £250,000 a week. The Carlos Tevez story was far less significant. It was just his representatives making a veiled pitch to Internazionale. A "come-and-get-me" plea as Swiss Ramble wouldn't say. But Tevez dominated the "most read". Stockport? Didn't make the list.

Player quotes are barely less popular, by the "most read" gauge. The provenance of these quotes might be foreign journalists – continental players are more comfortable sharing their thoughts with their compatriot writers – and because they are being re-interpreted and re-translated, the player's original meaning can get mashed. But such is the demand for the easy material they offer that they are picked up and recycled across the internet within minutes and will dominate any club's profile on the NewsNow aggregator. A study on the American media by the Project for Excellence in Journalism in 2006 found that 14,000 Google News stories described the same 24 news events. Couldn't have put it better.

I assure you that keeping them safe until the papers roll off the presses is a job. Last Monday, Paul Scholes provided one of the most absorbing interviews given by a Manchester United player for years, to eight or so national daily newspaper reporters whose pact it was to release none of it to online editions until midnight. The Independent's back page, emailed to the BBC to help its paper review, was subsequently photographed and tweeted as a sizeable picture. By 9.30pm, the quotes were doing the rounds of fans' sites. It's a minefield out there.

Kieron O'Connor may contradict me when I say that his fine weekly posts are not subject to this re-publishing, though their revelations are often far more significant. So time to blank the "best read" and head for Edgeley Park, then? Maybe it is. But while I start the car, I should mention that yes, Samir Nasri probably will sign for Manchester United.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice