If you didn't know the name Duncan Jenkins before, the chances are you will today after the man behind the Twitter parody account leveled potentially serious accusations at Liverpool PR man—and former Sports Illustrated editor—Jen Chang.
Jenkins' story, as told by the mystery man behind the Twitter account—read the full version here—makes for extraordinary reading.
He claims to have cost Liverpool £300,000 by tweeting of their interest in Fabio Borini before the deal was done, and he alleges to have been threatened by Chang in a face-to-face meeting between the pair soon after.
Before indulging any of this, of course, it's worth bearing in mind that the Duncan Jenkins character was itself a fictional device. The allegations against Chang and Liverpool must clearly therefore be looked upon with inherent skepticism.
What happened to Duncan Jenkins: duncanjenkins.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/such-l…— duncan jenkins (@duncanjenkinsFC) October 12, 2012
Here's how the man behind Jenkins tells his story.
He starts out by coming clean. Jenkins was never the "insider" he pertained to be on Twitter, nor did he have moles at Liverpool feeding him information on transfer dealings.
But by a combination of guesswork and the gullibility of others, Jenkins says he managed to install himself as a source credible enough to be quoted in legitimate articles and pick up some big-hitting followers on Twitter. He also bagged himself some paid work at Goal.com.
This part of the story has been told before. It's nothing new for people to pose as reliable sources on Twitter and people to believe them—especially when it comes to the feeding frenzy of transfer rumors.
But here's where the Duncan Jenkins story gets really interesting.
In August 2012, the man behind "Slam Dunc" claims to have received a personal message on Twitter from Chang, the respected former SI football editor who, in May, was installed as Liverpool's corporate relations and communications director.
He claims Chang had worked out his real identity. This, as per his post today:
I was stunned. How did he know it was me? And why was he so bothered? I tried to reply but I couldn't, as Chang wasn't following me.
Clearly he had followed me to enable him to send the DM, and immediately unfollowed, denying me the chance to reply. So I emailed him at his official LFC email address.
What follows is an account of an alleged email exchange between the pair, which he (the man behind Jenkins) claims resulted in a meeting at a restaurant in Manchester.
At that meeting (are we to believe it took place?), he alleges that Chang addressed a tweet from Jenkins claiming Liverpool were interested in signing Borini from Roma. The suggestion is that the club were directly affected by this wholly made-up speculation, to the tune of £300,000 added to Roma's asking price.
What we then get is the suggestion that Chang had paid for somebody to track down Duncan Jenkins' real identity, and also that Liverpool were pursuing the notion he might actually have a mole inside Anfield.
It's here that the man behind Jenkins alleges Chang demanded he post a tweet making it clear everything had been made up, and there was no mole at Liverpool feeding him information. If he did this, everything would be resolved amicably.
At this point, we return to the post on Duncan Jenkin's blog today:
He (Chang) told me that if I didn't tweet as requested by Thursday night, and/or that further checks with their suspected mole revealed links to me, that he would hand over all of my info (from the dossier compiled by the people hired to find me) to the embittered journalists and ask them to do their worst, to run smear stories on me in the tabloid press.
He said "they will make your life hell, and will turn all Liverpool supporters against you. The papers will say you cost the club you claim to love serious money, that you willfully damaged the club."
"You know how crazy football fans are", he said, "You'll have dog s*** coming through your letterbox, you'll have to take your Facebook page down, you might even have to move house."
...He then said the papers would also "ruin your Dad's online business."
The man posing as Jenkins says he never posted that tweet. He alleges Chang then bombarded him with calls, until eventually he was contacted by a third party on transfer deadline day to confirm all threats had been withdrawn.
It's only now that Duncan Jenkins—whomever he is—has decided to tell his story. And he decided to end it by singling out Chang:
I don't think this was a Liverpool FC thing—I believe it was Chang flying solo. For some reason he had become unbelievably paranoid about Duncan Jenkins and his behavior was borderline demented.
Chang has yet to respond on Twitter. Liverpool have yet to offer an official response either.
It could very well be that the whole affair is a carefully manufactured smear campaign. Equally, there's the possibility Liverpool are dealing with yet another PR disaster.
Whatever really happened, there's no doubt the man who wasn't Duncan Jenkins had many people fooled.
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