Mediawatch Special: Harry Kane, Telegraph and client churnalism

Date published: Wednesday 18th August 2021 10:07 - Editor F365

Harry Kane Tottenham

Harry Kane and his brother are managing to lose a PR war with Daniel Levy. The press release in a national newspaper is quite something.

We all knew we were in for a Harry Kane Transfer Saga this summer. We all knew it would be tiresome and drag on. We all knew it would quite probably get rather unpleasant. I don’t think any of us quite expected… this. The Kanes, star striker Harry and his grinning brother/agent Charlie, have managed to lose a PR war with Daniel Levy. Given the respective standings of Harry and Danny among Spurs fans barely a month ago, that’s a quite staggering trick to have pulled off.

But the Kanes are not done yet. For their latest salvo aimed squarely at their own feet (mind those ankles, Harry!) they have once again leaked exciting information to the newspapers. And, let’s give credit where it’s due, the Kanes are learning from earlier errors. They’ve leaked this stuff to football journalists. It’s progress.

Sadly, it’s limited progress. Because the Telegraph have taken client journalism and mixed in a bit of good old-fashioned churnalism to produce some astonishing client churnalism. Charlie can probably feel a tad put out his efforts do not merit a joint by-line with Jason Burt.

Let’s have a look, shall we…

‘Harry Kane has thrown down the gauntlet to Daniel Levy to make good on an understanding that he could leave Tottenham Hotspur if the club failed to win a trophy or finished outside the top four last season.’

A gauntlet! Thrown down! It’s pistols at dawn next if Levy won’t start behaving like a gentleman. We’ve dealt with this countless times but here we go again… Even if we accept that a gentleman’s agreement exists and even if we accept that Daniel Levy should honour it (both of which are endlessly debatable anyway) there is simply no way that ‘Harry can leave if we don’t win a trophy or finish in the top four’ is the entirety of that agreement. The Kanes’ (and now Telegraph’s) refusal to acknowledge, understand or accept the really quite important and obvious ‘as long as someone meets our valuation’ caveat really is beginning to really grate.

‘It can be revealed by Telegraph Sport that just two weeks out from the end of the transfer window Kane feels that

  • “Levy has not honoured a specific meeting at the end of the 2019/20 season where Kane was promised he could leave if Spurs underachieved the next season’

Again, we’re beyond confident that Levy didn’t mean for a bargain price of Manchester City or anyone else’s choosing.

  • ‘Kane felt Levy signed off on his extra week of holiday only for a club miscommunication leading to fans turning against him’

<Extremely Limmy voice>He’s turned the fans against us!</Extremely Limmy voice> Maybe Levy did sign off, maybe he didn’t. But Camp Kane did nothing to dispel the confusion either.

  • ‘It is believed City have already made a £125m bid, but Levy is refusing to sell and is no longer accepting calls’

Ah, at last we arrive at some talk of a fee. It’s not quite the £160m fee that the Kanes breathlessly told The Sun about at The Blue Wedding, though, is it? We thought it was all agreed? Levy had agreed that Kane could leave for £160m. A source – for privacy’s sake let’s call him ‘Charlie K’… no, that’s too obvious… let’s say ‘C Kane’ – told the Currant Bun: “Harry is delighted. He never wanted to leave on bad terms.”

Sounds almost like the Kanes should be aiming their displeasure at City. Where’s that £35m gone, lads? It was all agreed?

‘Sources close to the England captain have told Telegraph Sport that a frustrated Kane believes the Tottenham chairman has reneged on the promise or so-called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ he made in a meeting before the start of last season.’

The gentleman’s agreement where Levy also apparently conceded that City could set the fee…

‘The striker believes he should be allowed to join Manchester City, wants to leave on good terms with his relationship with the fans being extremely important to him and has reiterated all of this in subsequent meetings with Levy. Kane feels that the board has failed to match his ambition and should negotiate.’

The striker believes he should be allowed to have his cake and eat it. But, again, weren’t these negotiations all sorted a month ago? The price is £160m. You were delighted about it.

‘It is also understood that City’s bid for Kane already amounts to £125million in total – not the £100million that has been previously reported – but that Levy has become so entrenched that he is now refusing to even discuss what would be a British record transfer.’

Come on, Danny, be reasonable. £125m is basically £160m. What’s £35m between old friends? It’s a small discount to give to a club richer than most countries, and surely a small price to pay to make Harry happy.

‘Spurs have insisted Kane is not for sale but the two clubs are understood to have been in dialogue for over a year about the move, with Kane aware of what was happening, but much to City’s frustration there are currently no talks and no indication Levy will change his mind.’

At the risk of repeating ourselves, it’s not Levy who needs to change his mind here. We know the price. City haven’t met it.

‘City sources have indicated the club is expected to make “one final push” to sign Kane before the transfer window closes on August 31. Sources also say that Kane’s intention is not to make one last effort to go but rather to want the full situation to be explained out of respect for the fans.’

Shot.

‘Despite being named in the original 25-man squad Kane is not expected to travel to Portugal for Spurs’ Europa Conference League play-off against Pacos de Ferreira but that is more to do with his fitness after returning late for training – and the player is also frustrated at how that episode has been portrayed believing he had been given an extended holiday by the club who should have clarified that publicly.’

Chaser.

‘If Kane does not secure his move to City he will obviously make himself available for selection, as he already has done, remain professional and continue to perform for Spurs as best he can, irrespective of the situation with the chairman.’

He will obviously make himself available for selection, which is good of him. Just not for the game on Thursday, obviously. But definitely after that, maybe. He already has done, has he? Hmm. Well, benefit of the doubt here, we suppose. None of us on the outside really know his current fitness levels but if there’s one thing we have learned about Harry Kane over the last few years is that he always likes to take his time over returning to action and absolutely never, ever rushes back into the side if he is in any way short of full fitness. We shouldn’t rush to judgement either.

‘But he also wants the club’s fans to understand why he feels the time has come to finally leave in search of silverware and certainly not for more money. Kane has been consistent in interviews over the past couple of years as to how much it means to him to win trophies at this stage of his career.’

Spurs fans do understand that. They have always understood that. If it’s not about more money – and most would even now still accept that this is probably not the primary motivator for a man already vastly well paid by the club he is currently trashing in national newspapers – why not simply put in a transfer request and forego the laughably named loyalty bonus? That would help bring the two clubs closer together on the transfer fee and help the Spurs fans understand your motivation, and we know how important that is to you. (SPOILER ALERT: We get an answer to this little head-scratcher later, and it is a thing of wonder.)

‘Kane’s frustration largely appears to hinge on a meeting last year. The 28-year-old accepts that he has three years left on his contract but, according to sources close to him, he was told by Levy that Spurs would go all out to win a trophy and achieve a Champions League spot.

‘Kane’s understanding from the meeting was that if that did not happen – Spurs subsequently finished seventh in the Premier League in a disappointing campaign and lost the League Cup final – he would be allowed to leave.’

BUT. ONLY. IF. SOMEONE. MET. SPURS’. VALUATION.

‘Kane finished the season with his third Golden Boot as the Premier League’s top-scorer and was also the leading assist-maker.

‘It is why Kane also then felt empowered to conduct a Sky Sports interview with former England coach Gary Neville in which, in a measured discussion, he effectively confirmed he would like to leave Spurs and wanted a “good, honest conversation with the chairman” about his future and what he could be sold for. Kane maintains that a sale, for what would beat the £100 million that City paid for Jack Grealish, would be good for Spurs as well as for him.’

Again, no mention here of Kane’s acceptance of and delight at the £160m figure?

‘It was also made clear that Kane wanted his future sorted out before leading England at the European Championship and, given his belief there was a gentleman’s agreement, he fully expected that to happen.’

That was never going to happen.

‘The greatest disappointment for Kane is that he hoped if a deal could be struck then he would be able leave Spurs with the blessing of the club and the fans but that has clearly not yet happened.’

Why won’t the club and the fans give their blessing to giving a mates’ rates discount to a club that absolutely does not require it? Why have my apparent attempts to drive down the transfer fee upset the fans? Why does everything I whip leave me?

‘Kane was left out of Sunday’s opening league match – ironically at home to City – and was not at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after being told he did not need to be with the squad. He watched the game on television and heard the fans chanting “Are you watching Harry Kane?” towards the end of the unexpected victory.

‘According to sources Kane fully accepts the reaction but also hopes that the fans will understand his position particularly after all the successful years of service he has given to the club, where he came through the academy, and the way he has conducted himself. Wanting to leave is not a slight to the supporters or club but a sign of his ambition.’

We like that The Telegraph remembered this is supposed to be journalism not a press release for the Kane family and stuck another ‘According to sources’ in there.

‘It partly explains Kane’s statement on his Instagram account when he felt his “professionalism” was being questioned and he was letting the fans down when he apparently returned to training a week late and then had to undergo a period of self-isolation. “While I won’t go into the specifics of the situation, I want to clarify that I would never, and have never, refused to train. I will be returning to the club tomorrow, as planned”, he wrote on August 6.

‘Kane believes he was offered an extended break by Levy but that there was a breakdown in communication and this was not relayed by the club’s football department or head coach Nuno Espirito Santo. Kane had already booked a week’s break in Florida and was on his way from the Bahamas when it transpired he was expected back sooner with the player eventually arranging to return via Paris to get back as best he could.’

It was five days before Kane was back at Spurs after the ‘breakdown in communication’. It seems a bit of a stretch to present this as the ‘best’ possible return from Florida to London for a multi-millionaire, even under the current circumstances.

‘According to sources, Kane felt he was given contradictory instructions and hoped the club would clarify the mix-up and sources suggest he has been left disappointed by the failure to do so which has fuelled the anger of some fans who believe he has let them down.’

Kane and his camp could also have clarified any mix-up at any time. For the fans.

‘Kane does not intend to submit a transfer request, even in a late attempt to try to force the move, because it is clear what his position is and what he wants to happen and he has even already said this publicly.’

And there it is. The most openly disingenuous line in the whole sorry piece. The only reason not to submit a transfer request while engaged in such a naked attempt to leave is to keep hold of the loyalty bonus a player is entitled to receive when sold mid-contract. To pretend that he’s not doing so ‘because it is clear what his position is and what he wants to happen’ is to insult the intelligence of those supporters he apparently cares so much about. That The Telegraph allow this to go unchallenged is an insult to their readers.

‘Neither will he try to force the move and will fully accept the situation if he has to stay and continue his career at Spurs even if he still harbours hopes of leaving for City in the next few days if Levy is willing to re-open talks.’

Good to end on a positive note. Good to be reminded at the end of a lengthy piece in a national newspaper trashing his current club and chairman over their failure to give him the move he wants on the terms he wants that Kane won’t try to force the move and accepts the situation. That’s a relief.

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