The Hairdryer

‘Breaking news! There is no news’: Van Gaal circus shows football is king

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"It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper." – Jerry Seinfeld

So did you hear the big breaking news regarding Louis Van Gaal?

Brace yourself:

Deep breath, folks...

Here goes: THERE IS NO NEWS.

The man everybody knows is going to be the next Manchester United manager was expected to be confirmed on Thursday, but now we are seemingly going to have to wait a few more days before it's OFFICIAL.

Not exactly a great story, of course, or even a story at all. But with the Premier League a fading memory already, the World Cup still weeks away and the back pages already saturated with FA Cup and Liga preview material, it's still an opportunity for the sports media to make hay. Whoopie!

The (non)story has raced to the top of most sports websites, whether newspapers' sport sections or dedicated sites.

The clear message is that the most significant sporting development of the day is that there has been no new developments at Old Trafford. You're spot on Mr Seinfeld – where do we find all this news?

Look! There it is on top of the Sky Sports website…

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And the The Sun's…

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And the Independent's….

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And…oh look what is this? It is also top of this very website (so no jokes about the colours of kettles please).

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Now let us not kid ourselves: this non-breaking news story has not exactly come on the busiest sports day of the year.

But we do have a Masters tennis event on in Rome, stage six of the Giro d'Italia, the beginning of a European Tour event in Spain, a pretty full horse racing card.

And even in football we are two days away from the FA Cup final and one day removed from the Europa League final.

And yet -- even though it is all a bunch of nothingness -- the Van Gaal story seems and feels like the biggest sports news of the day.

The statistics that media organisations painstakingly analyse bears out the same thing - put a story about Manchester United as your lead, and people will read that story/click on your website/buy your newspaper.

It is easy to blame the media for shoving the Premier League down people's throats, but the only reason they do this is because readers keep coming back for seconds.

It is a chicken and egg situation: what came first? The media's obsession with the Premier League or the public's?

Either way, it has now become an animal that is eating itself, and the only way the media will stop reporting it with such excess is if the public's appetite for such tittle-tattle shows any sign of slowing down. In other words, not any time soon.

The sporting landscape didn't always look like this.

Not so long ago, any sports fan worth his salt would have been able to tell you who was the best 1500m runner in the world; who were the top five heavyweight boxers; who was leading the champion jockey standings; who were Yorkshire's opening batsmen; who were the world's best snooker players and on and on.

Some of you may still know all these things – but you would be in a small minority.

In the past we were sports fans, but now football is so all consuming that it is very easy to be a football fan with everything else relegated to an afterthought.

Sure, you might watch a big fight like Froch v Groves; or pop the telly on to catch a few frames of the World Snooker final, if it gets interesting. But where once any live sport was a treat when those of us of a certain age were kids, now there is football on every night to keep you entertained.

And even then, the actual matches themselves seem like mere sideshows to the real drama. Because more and more, the transfer gossip, managerial rumours, rants, tiffs, debates and speculation in between matches are often more compelling than the games themselves.

The Premier League now seems to have more in common with Eastenders or Neighbours than sport. Some episodes are more interesting than others - Jose Mourinho returning to Chelsea was just like Dirty Den coming back from the dead, for example - and storylines get rehashed and revisited all the time. But just as soap fans do on the box, sports fans do with football news.

It is a sad reality from those of us who like some variety in sport, but there is no escaping what has happened and what will likely continue to happen.

Now, we all have a computer in our pockets in the form of smart phones and can see what is happening in our favourite 'show' every minute of the day. And for many people, that show is the Premier League.

Football has truly become a daily soap opera and people need to know what is happening every hour of every day - even when what is happening is nothing at all.

Seán Fay (Twitter: @Sean_Fay)

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