A Brief History of the Insider's Time

(Warning: It’s not actually that brief!)

“Cross my PayPal[m] with silver,” says ‘Gypsy Lee’ Oldham, “and you too shall know the secrets of Liverpool’s future summer transfers.”

The teaser headlines on the front page promise tantalising stories, citing ‘Koptalk sources’, to lure in ‘mature’, ‘sensible’ and ‘diehard’ Reds. It’s never been so easy to acquire those qualities: simply pay your £30 and you’ve proved it!

And why not? After all, this is the author who has been invited in to chat with Rick Parry about his book; the guy who regularly socialises with LFC players; the same man who whispered something (‘not romantic’) in Peter Robinson’s ear to get a season ticket. Between all those connections, plus a gateman at Melwood (still fondly and inconveniently recalled by some KT members), he surely knows more than most about what goes on inside Anfield. Then there’s the ringing endorsement of George Gillett’s membership, proudly displayed on his site. Well, I’m sold!

robinson-whisper

Or, rather, I might be if any of it were actually true. Because George Gillett’s office cancelled his so-called membership when he found out what your site is really like, didn’t he, Dunk? I know, because I saw the e-mails confirming it. So did other contributors here. You never did explain how he could enthuse so much about the members’ interaction on a site he’d never seen — he can’t possibly have, since you need to have paid to gain access!

Contrary to Oldham’s recent claims that 99.9% of the content was free till last September, he has experimented with pay services almost since his site’s inception in the late 1990s. The first attempts were in 1999, with news updates by deluxe e-mail and by phone. There was also a KopTalk ISP. Notice how he wasn’t shy even then of using Hillsborough as a promotional tool.

deluxe-mailphone-servicekt-isp

As far as I can tell, these were not long-lasting services. However, KopTalk was probably the biggest LFC site at the time; the Club had yet to launch their own, even, so his traffic was substantial. Oldham himself claimed in excess of 2.2 million hits for July 1999, in an era when many people still had no online access, so there was vast potential for profit and he was not to be thwarted.

Consequently, a VIP service launched in early 2000. By now, he was advertising it on the basis that he had sources at the Club, and openly stated that several players would be posting there. He knew the effect this would have. It was also during this period that he began what later became his standard practice of writing vague transfer stories, whilst promising that more detail was available on the paid site.

And far from 99.9% of the site always having been free, Oldham even began to charge for standard news items — the so-called Bronze Membership — in July 2004, leaving only a feed for the news needs of those ‘who are unable to support us or decide not to’.

kt-vip-bull-1kt-vip-bull-2Bronze

The ‘insider’ fallacy is undoubtedly KopTalk’s biggest con. Despite what his apologists still maintain, most people didn’t join up for the community there and nor was that how he advertised and promoted it, prominently and on a daily basis. It is obvious from reading posts there, even now, that people stay because they believe they are ‘in the loop’ — especially overseas supporters who are remote from the Club — and not for the quality of debate.

How could it be otherwise, when the Executive Lounge and its transfer subforum are full of hysterical threads, started by the same idiotic posters, to the weary exasperation of the remaining sensible members?

Why should we care? It’s a question I’ve seen asked by some who’ve never been members, by some ex-members and even by those who still visit his site. As fans, we have a fine reputation for wit, dignity in defeat and supporting our team in the right way. We’re renowned for sticking together. We don’t like seeing ticket touting, because we don’t like to rip off our own. Our fans don’t tolerate racism at Anfield; the Munich chants of the bad old days are banished. All that is part of what makes Liverpool FC one of the truly global clubs; we attract fans from all over the world. It’s something to be proud of. They can’t drink in The Sandon every other Saturday, but they want to feel part of the community and the internet allows them to interact with their fellow fans.

There are many forums out there where they can choose to do that. To stand out from the rest, KopTalk needed something else. Its ‘insider’ information was the bait that hooked the fish. “No info = no point,” I think he once said. I dislike anything that brings down the reputation that generations of our fans have strived so hard to build. With its lies about our Club and its players, that is what KopTalk did and continues to do.

For almost a decade, Oldham has cynically encouraged the impression that he has privileged knowledge about the activities of players and officials from our Club, allowing him an audience for his rants, providing a market for his merchandise, sympathetic donors for his unregistered appeals, and generating many thousands in subscriptions from fans desperate for exclusive news.

As long ago as 2002, he talked about one day closing the free site and retaining just the Insider, but first he needed a reputation, and he has worked hard to build an image as a man with contacts. It was all about establishing trust with members. If he was the confidante of executives, the drinking pal of players, and had direct access to them, as he implied and sometimes explicitly stated, then who would doubt him?

On his free sites, he hosted features like Team Morale, giving details of the current emotions of Liverpool players, to which he was privy because of his ‘excellent relationships at all levels of the club’. The eagle-eyed among you will spot how it was left to KT readers to interpret the images he tagged to a player; not that he knew nothing, of course! A 2001 editorial listed current players and a secretary among his sources. He claimed to be able to print off and deliver members’ e-mails to players.

moralerumour-millkt-player-mails

His forums, often merely a honey trap for potential Insider subscribers, boasted that former and current players had access and, in one moment of madness, he even claimed that Robbie Fowler discovered there that his transfer to Leeds had been leaked. Yes, the same Fowler about whom Oldham wrote sanctimonious leaders, culminating in his infamous ‘close the door on your way out’ editorial. Do you think he frequented the site? The same Fowler whom Oldham said was going nowhere just before he left. Then again, it should come as no surprise that Dunk wants to have his cake and eat it. 😉

forum-bull

Nonetheless, as a result of all this, thousands believed his advertising blurb that he had ‘forged links within the Anfield squad’ and that he ‘socialise[d] with various VIP’s and Liverpool players every weekend’, and they paid up for the Insider or the Gold Club.

player-socialising

Also, notice how, in all this, he seems to believe that saying ‘allegedly’ or the use of aliases (ahum!) makes anything that’s said ok.

There used to be a whole range of people who posted supposed ‘insider’ information. Some were ordinary members, most of whom have now left for elsewhere. Of the more mysterious personalities, the Horse appears to have been put out to pasture, while the Wallet is much less fat these days (unlike Dunk himself) after the mass exodus of subscribers — perhaps that explains his relative silence?

Luckily, though, the Informer is still around to dispense occasional pearls of bullshit, like the recent laughable story of a fund transfer to LFC’s holding account. As a treat, I’ve managed to obtain some rare footage of the Informer in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtILxBszyf8

What does all this say about Dunk? If it were true, then he’s implying that he blackmailed a former chief executive; echoes, in fact, of last year’s supposed meeting with Rick Parry, when Dunk said he had something Parry wanted and Dunk wanted information in exchange. If it were true, then he’s admitted that he’s happy to publish sensitive and potentially damaging information — not on the main site, but as long as you’re paying for it — with no way of preventing it from circulating. If it were true, then Liverpool FC players and staff were giving out confidential knowledge, not out of a sense of duty to inform the fans, but for the financial gain of Duncan Oldham. Does any of that make him look good? As we all know, though, it isn’t true. Instead, these claims are slurs and lies that damage the reputation of our Club and its personnel, and they are an insult to us all.

Of course, we all know how KopTalk’s strategy works in practice. We’re linked with so many players, in such vague terms, that one of them is bound to come true. When it happens, in the style of the tabloids he so admires, Dunk can say, “…as exclusively revealed to KopTalk members days/weeks/months ago”, conveniently forgetting the majority that didn’t come off. If facts enter the public domain that contradict his previous ‘insider’ bull, then he just blames an eleventh-hour intrigue and scrambles to pretend that he already knew, never explaining why he didn’t speak up before everyone else did as well!

That used to cause some frantic editing and deleting in the past but, these days, Dunk’s hit on the much simpler solutions of storing threads from just the last few days and disabling the function allowing you to view a member’s posts. Pretty inconvenient for me when I pop on for a spot of light blogging, but even worse for when his paying members want to check what Dunk really said 2 weeks ago.

Lately, you’ll have noticed that Dunk appears to be taking more of a backseat. Just recently, he claimed on Steve’s 18th that he had built up a great range of contacts. And it was Steve who was, not so long ago, in direct SMS contact with someone who could tell the eager KopTalkers just what was happening about Torres. From next season, he says, Steve will be in charge. Perhaps he’s about to pass on the torch, the Melwood wheelie bin and the Informer password to a new generation? Whatever happens, we’ll be watching.

(This is my first proper article, though I have contributed in the past. Comments and corrections are welcome! I’d like to acknowledge the role of Outside Insider in gathering some of the research used in this article.)

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17 Responses to “A Brief History of the Insider's Time”

  1. paulcooper4 Says:

    excellent article mate. This is what the blog should be all about. FACTS. Not a hysterical witch hunt based on a mob culture. Again, well done fella, I definitely think that if someone read your article before signing up for kt, they would not now do so.

  2. Andy Says:

    That’s a cracking article

  3. jon Says:

    Nice work 1892 Insider.

  4. Red Lion Landlord Says:

    A brilliant retrospective, excellently written. Well done.

  5. asura Says:

    nice article mate.. keep up the good work..

  6. Vig Says:

    Good stuff mate. Keep it coming.

  7. redheart Says:

    A big improvement on previous vitriolic personal attacks

  8. Flagpole Corner Says:

    great work 1892 Insider. it appears that the puppet master is making the preparations to walk away from his exposed empire and leave the puppet to sweep away any indiscrepencies.

    i do have to correct you on one thing though:

    “the Munich chants of the bad old days are banished.”

    that’s technically not true nowadays. yes they’re not heard at anfield but if you’d been on the train to wrexham yesterday, you would’ve heard several chants referring to munich and heysel. it derives from the younger following and although it will cease over time it’s not gone away by any stretch.

  9. 1892 Insider Says:

    Thanks, Flagpole.

    I think what you refer to is very much the work of an unenlightened minority, especially young lads. You can never totally eradicate these things, but they’re no longer common or widespread. It’s the duty of all decent fans to try to stamp out these practices when they see them.

  10. Turnkey Charlie Says:

    Guys in order that the Blog survives, we need to have at least one update per day.

    Insider, how about you assign one writer for each day of the week. Since the blog reshuffle, I feel like we are losing touch with Oldham’s capers.

    I’m sure he’s working up a frenzy in the forums, and we on the outside don’t know a damn thing about what’s going on.

    What happened to the mystery medial (not Torres?)…..come on fella’s, let’s get a grip.

  11. Andy Says:

    Turnkey,
    Here’s some Oldham bollocks from this morning for you – people pay £30 to be told to keep an eye on the Echo and the nationals for news. Great value for money.

    Dunk
    I’m told that there will be some news regarding our progress for a winger (or wingers) either on Monday afternoon/evening or on Tuesday afternoon/evening.
    Keep a close eye on the local written media in Liverpool as they are the unofficial mouthpiece for the club so if Parry wants to get something out – be it true or bluff – it will be in there.
    It may also be worth paying a closer eye on the nationals tomorrow. With us enquiring about Deco, I expect that the club will want us to put some pressure on FC Porto and/or AS Roma so they need to get something out.

  12. Tam Says:

    I have to admit that I stumbled upon the Koptalk Insider website a few weeks ago and am completely puzzled by it.

    (Before I go any further in the interests of transparency I should say that I subscribe to Koptalk and it is one of the dozen or so LFC websites that I surf through from time to time.)

    There are plenty of people in life that I don’t approve of or/and who I believe to be dishonest, and I just ignore them and don’t spend a second of my time thinking about them. I don’t understand why you just don’t do the same.

    I do not see what Oldham is doing with his website that is any different from what other business people do when they appear to promise more than they deliver. The Sunday Newspapers are full of promise on their front pages but no delivery on the inside pages. Noone is forced to pay him money; they choose to do it. Maybe they are disappointed with what they receive in return, but surely then they just cancel their membership. That is how life is.

    He appears, judging from the comments on this website, to have worn a Sun hat and then lied to dig himself out of a hole. In the big bad world people do lie you know, terrible and pointlesst though it is…but still I wouldn’t waste even a moment’s breath setting up a website to pour vitriol on those who lie; I would simply choose never to trust them again.

    I have seen the comments elsewhere on this site about cybersquatting. I have lost track a bit on what is morally right and morally wrong in the internet age, but he is not the only person to allegedly do what you claim, so again why the fuss.

    Clearly I am missing something. What is it that I do not get? Are we simply talking about a sharp (very very sharp according to this website) business man or something else? This is a genuine query and not a wind-up.

  13. Steve O Says:

    Tam,

    Can you post an article about what you find worth 30 quid about koptalk, about how as a liverpool fan you can still support dunce in buying, advertising and using the Sun.

    Can you tell us if you believe he really has insider info, whether he went to Athens or lies about it. About the fake competitions about the fake charities etc etc.

    I think we need the ‘other side of the story’

  14. 1892 Insider Says:

    Tam,

    I thought I reasoned quite explicitly in this article as to why we object to KopTalk’s practices with regard to ‘insider’ information.

    I refer you in particular to this paragraph:

    What does all this say about Dunk? If it were true, then he’s implying that he blackmailed a former chief executive; echoes, in fact, of last year’s supposed meeting with Rick Parry, when Dunk said he had something Parry wanted and Dunk wanted information in exchange. If it were true, then he’s admitted that he’s happy to publish sensitive and potentially damaging information — not on the main site, but as long as you’re paying for it — with no way of preventing it from circulating. If it were true, then Liverpool FC players and staff were giving out confidential knowledge, not out of a sense of duty to inform the fans, but for the financial gain of Duncan Oldham. Does any of that make him look good? As we all know, though, it isn’t true. Instead, these claims are slurs and lies that damage the reputation of our Club and its personnel, and they are an insult to us all.

    I take your point about newspapers. They do of course exaggerate all the time. Rarely, though, can they get away with so blatantly making up stories from nothing; seldom do they make wild claims about contact with players or senior executives. When they do outright lie, especially about celebrities, you’ll notice that they often find themselves being held to account for it or, at the very least, they might print a retraction and apology.

    “There are plenty of people in life that I don’t approve of or/and who I believe to be dishonest, and I just ignore them and don’t spend a second of my time thinking about them. I don’t understand why you just don’t do the same.”

    With all due respect, if everyone shared your laissez-faire attitude about wrongdoing in this world, then a lot of injustices would persist. Some of us want to protect our fellow fans from wasting their money, especially those in poor countries where £30 may well represent a substantial sum of money. For example, in China, that can be a fortnight’s wages for some people. We have also heard on here from others who would consider £30 more than mere loose change.

    For a very articulate expression of why the blog exists, may I suggest that you read this comment by jon, a blog reader.

    http://tinyurl.com/2pvlkn

  15. Tam Says:

    Thanks for replying to my message.

    1 Without wishing to be rude, I do not think, Steve O, your questions are in any way a response to my message. For example, even if my answers to all your questions were ‘no’, it still seems legitimate to me to wonder why you guys go to all the bother you do. Even having spent some time reading stuff on your site and even if every word is true (and I am not saying it isn’t), he wouldn’t come near my list of the top ten worse people I have come across in my life. And, even if he did I wouldn’t set up a website about him.
    2 I suppose I am unpersuaded by 1893 Insider too, for several reasons:

    + If there are as few real Koptalk members as this site suggests, nothing Oldham says on his website would have any impact on LFC’s reputation. (Or was it on a public page, in which case ignore my comment if they are hit much more often.)
    + You sort of suggest that my analogy to newspaers promising more than they can deliver is not a good one because that if they do that they end up being caught out and often having to print a retraction or an apology. Actually, I think the truth is that they only rarely get caught out or retract or apologise. Usually they get away with it because there is not a website like this keeping track of what they say.
    + I do not have a laissez-faire attitude to wrong-doing. In fact, I have suffered quite a bit because of one person’s wrong doing, but it still wouldn’t make me feel any better to blog about the person.

    I will read Jon’s comment in the morning; maybe the scales will fall from my eyes!

    Cheers.

  16. Koptalk Outsider Says:

    It’s really simple Tam. We’re LFC supporters. We care about eachother. When someone is ripping of fellow LFC-supporters we don’t sit on our arses looking at it without doing anything. This is what YNWA’s all about!

  17. 1892 Insider Says:

    At the risk of repeating myself, I did point out that few newspapers operate with such a disregard for the truth that they can or do brazenly make entirely false claims. When they do fabricate stories about people powerful enough to strike back, then they are held to account for it. I cited celebrities as an instance of this. Ordinary Liverpool fans have no such recourse; exposing it via a blog is the only weapon, therefore.

    To take one example, KopTalk continue to claim George Gillett as a member, which is a lie. And do you believe that Dunk obtained his season ticket by whispering something in the ear of Peter Robinson? These are not typical press exaggerations or distortions of the truth; they are bold statements.

    The fact is that KopTalk did have a large readership when the worst of its transgressions were perpetrated. I don’t know if you have read the Get Fowler articles (see the toolbar above). They speak for themselves if you take time to peruse them but, to summarise, they detail a concerted and long-lasting campaign of misinformation that was conducted against Fowler in his first spell at Anfield. KopTalk was condemned at the time for one story of that nature by Chris Bascombe of The Liverpool Echo.

    I get the impression, however, that you’re not questioning the evidence here, but you wonder why it exists at all, regardless of the facts. I feel I have answered that. Blogging is not about making anyone ‘feel better’; it’s not a form of therapy. As I explained, it is partly to prevent unaware fans from paying money for KopTalk. Money that, in some cases, they may scarcely be able to afford. It is also about protecting the reputation of our Club. Membership numbers on KopTalk are far from what they were, so the damage is much less, but it is possible that they could recover in the future if the blog ceased to be active.

    You admit that you are a KopTalk member, among other sites that you browse. I wonder why, since you don’t dispute what’s said here, you choose to visit KopTalk. What do you feel you get there for £30 that you’re not getting elsewhere for free, as you say that you only ‘surf through from time to time’? And doesn’t what you read here concern you? Do you dismiss the evidence or does it just not bother you enough to cause you to cancel?


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